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Gastrotomy Surgery for Dogs

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    What is a Gastrotomy Surgery?

    A gastrotomy is a fairly common surgical operation, usually done in emergency cases, that involves opening up the stomach to remove foreign bodies and tumors. 

    What does Gastrotomy Surgery Treat?

    Photo Credit: Greenway Drive Veterinary Hospital

    A gastrotomy is performed to remove foreign bodies from the stomach. This usually includes foreign objects that can’t be removed via endoscopic extraction due to size, sharpness or if they are obscure as well as tumors. The procedure can also be performed to treat bloating in dogs whose stomachs have turned. It may also be done for diagnostic purposes for biopsies.

    How Does Gastrotomy Surgery Work?

    Once a dog is prepped, sterile and under anesthesia, an incision similar to a spay incision is made. The upper abdomen incision provides access to the abdominal cavity and another incision is made into the stomach. The surgeon then removes the object or tumor, collects the biopsy, or repairs a rupture. Sutures that dissolve over time are used to seal the incision in the stomach at the end of the surgery. Following that, the abdominal incision is closed with one or two layers of self-dissolving sutures. Sutures or surgical staples are used to seal the skin’s outer layer and are removed within 10 to 14 days.

    How Effective is Gastrotomy Surgery?

    Gastrotomy is essentially the only method to remove most foreign objects or tumors from stomachs and there usually isn’t time for diagnostics in the cases of emergencies. While it’s the permanent solution for removing objects, it doesn’t prevent tumors from coming back. It’s also the only treatment for bloat in dogs and is more often used in emergency situations of these conditions than not.

    How Much Does Gastrotomy Surgery Cost?

    The cost of gastrotomy surgery can vary greatly and is often anywhere between $800 to $7,000 but this is mainly due to the fact that the surgery is often done with other surgeries at the same time and done in emergency situations. Other factors that go into the cost include imaging and medications.

    How Can a Gastrotomy Be Prevented?

    Since a gastrotomy is often used for foreign object removal, the best way to prevent the need of the surgery in those cases is to keep your dog from chewing or eating non-edible items that they can swallow. This even includes sticks as they may swallow them or the sticks may splinter and the splinters can be swallowed. When it comes to preventing bloat and gastric torsion, don’t let your dog exercise right before or after a meal and encourage slow eating, especially in deep-chested breeds that a prone to bloat.