The Pet Gazette

The Pet Gazette

The Pet Gazette is
published by
Pet Media, Inc.
11 Market Street, #549
P.O. Box 549
Mashpee, MA 02649

Telephone: 508-419-6356
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Laparoscopic Prophylactic Gastropexy

Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat, is a common life-threatening condition that can affect many breeds of large and medium-sized dogs. The cause of this condition is unknown, but involves rapid distention of the stomach with gas, food and fluid, with subsequent twisting (volvulus) of the stomach - resulting in life-threatening consequences. Dogs who suffer from this condition can rapidly deteriorate and go into shock, and ultimately may die even with emergency treatment. Several canine breeds are commonly affected, including Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, German Shepherds, Standard Poodles and Bloodhounds. Large breed dogs are the most commonly affected, and medical and surgical procedures have been developed and perfected to treat the condition once it occurs.  If GDV occurs in your pet, emergency medical treatment, followed by surgery, is needed if the pet is to survive. Surgery involves “untwisting” of the stomach, followed by a procedure known as a “gastropexy”, which involves permanently “tacking” (attaching) the right side of the dog’s stomach to the right side of the body wall, thus preventing GDV from reoccurring in the future.

In an attempt to prevent GDV from ever occurring in susceptible breeds, a procedure commonly known as a prophylactic gastropexy can be performed. Traditionally, an open surgical approach has been utilized, which involves creating a relatively long incision into the abdomen to access the stomach. More recently, a minimally invasive technique using laparoscopic instrumentation has been developed, allowing the veterinary surgeon to perform this procedure through several very small incisions in the abdomen, as apposed to one large incision.
Laparoscopic surgery is the mainstay of treatment for many surgical diseases in people, and is now becoming more standard in our veterinary patients as well.  Many types of traditional surgical procedures, such as ovariohysterectomy (spay), liver biopsy, gall bladder removal, intestinal surgery and urinary bladder surgery can be performed in this fashion, offering a minimally invasive approach to many common conditions affecting canine patients. Benefits of this type of approach include shorter surgery and anesthesia time, smaller incisions causing less scarring and pain, and a faster recovery.
Laparoscopic surgery, including laparoscopic prophylactic gastropexy, involves the utilization of a video camera that is introduced into the abdomen through a small (5 mm) laparoscope, with one or two additional small incisions for other types of instrumentation needed to perform the procedure. Most patients can be discharged from the hospital on the same day as the procedure, which is uncommon if an open surgical approach is utilized.
Laparoscopic gastropexy can be performed in any medium or large breed dog for the prevention of GDV after six months of age. If you are planning to have your dog spayed or neutered, a laparoscopic gastropexy can be performed at the same time as those elective procedures, providing a worthwhile investment for the prevention of GDV in susceptible breeds.
Nicole Amato, DVM, DACVS, is a member of the veterinary staff and a staff surgeon at VCA South Shore Animal Hospital in South Weymouth, MA.