What is Gastropexy Surgery?
A gastropexy is a surgical procedure that is sometimes performed in large breed dogs to prevent gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat. It can be performed as a scheduled preventative surgery or may be done in an emergency manner.
What Does Gastropexy Surgery Treat in Dogs?
Gastropexy surgery is performed to either prevent or treat gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat. The surgery may be performed in a preventative or emergency manner. It is often recommended as a preventative measure for large breed dogs with deep barrel chests such as the Boxer and Great Dane.
During an episode of bloat, the dog’s stomach dilates and fills with air or fluid. Sometimes, the condition of bloat may stop there, however, it often progresses into volvulus, which is full GDV. This is where the life-threatening emergency comes in. When a dog is experiencing full GDV, the stomach twists upon itself. This causes the entrance and exit of the stomach to become blocked.
What Happens During a Gastropexy Surgery?
During a gastropexy surgery, the dog’s stomach is first sutured or “tacked” to the abdominal wall in the proper position. This prevents the stomach from rotating and twisting in the case that it was to fill with gas. The procedure does not fully prevent a dog from experiencing bloat, but it greatly reduces the life-threatening consequences associated.
When a gastropexy surgery is performed in an emergency manner, prior to tacking the stomach to the abdominal wall, the stomach will first be de-rotated or untwisted. The pressure on the stomach wall and internal organs need to be reduced as soon as possible. This may be done by passing a stomach tube. If that is not possible due to the rotation of the stomach, a large catheter may be inserted through the skin into the stomach to alleviate the pressure within the stomach. In addition to this, shock treatment needs to begin immediately, typically using intravenous fluids and emergency medications.
Once the dog becomes stable and is able to undergo anesthesia and the stomach has been restored to its proper position, the gastropexy portion of the surgery will occur. The tacking will be performed to prevent the issue from occurring again in the future.
How Much Does Gastropexy Surgery Cost?
A preventative gastropexy surgery in a non-emergency manner costs on average $400.
If you are able to catch your dog’s gastric dilatation-volvulus early, a non-emergency gastropexy costs approximately $400. However, an emergency gastropexy will cost an average of $1,500 or more to have completed.
How Can Gastropexy Surgery Be Prevented?
GDV and bloat cannot be 100% prevented, but there are factors that decrease the risk of GDV and the need for gastropexy (outside of having a preventative gastropexy tacking performed):
- Eating two or more meals per day
- Relaxed and easy-going temperament
- Slow down feeding; use slow-feeder bowls, puzzle feeders, or snuffle mats
While GDV and bloat can occur in any dog, it is largely hereditary, making some breeds predisposed to the condition. There are preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of bloat and GDV, however, mainly attributed to the breed and predisposition.
Breeds predisposed to GDV and bloat are large, deep-chested breeds including Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Weimaraners, Standard Poodles, and Doberman Pinschers. However, any breed of dog can develop bloat and GDV, even small breeds.
Typically, the condition occurs 2-3 hours after eating a large meal. But can occur at any time. Below are a few additional factors that increase the likelihood of GDV and bloat:
- Dogs weighing over 100 pounds have approximately a 20% risk of bloat during their lifetime
- Feeding only one meal a day
- Rapid eating
- Male dogs are more likely to bloat than females
- Dogs above 7 years old fall in the higher risk category
- Hereditary: family history of bloat
- Anxious or fearful dogs are more likely to experience bloat