Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat) in Dogs - Page 4

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Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat) in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.

Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize GDV, and exclude all other diseases, including:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination.

  • Clinical response to gastric decompression (passing a stomach tube or inserting a needle into the abdomen to relieve gas pressure).

  • Your veterinarian should assess your pet for shock. It is important to monitor vital signs, airway, breathing, heart rate and to identify bleeding disorders.

  • If the diagnosis is not clear, abdominal radiography (X-rays) is the first diagnostic test performed. An abdominal X-ray may reveal a large air-filled stomach with a soft tissue fold that appears to compartmentalize the stomach. This suggests that the stomach is twisted (volvulus). Air that is free floating in the abdomen suggests perforation of the stomach.

  • After initial stabilization of the patient a complete blood count (CBC) and blood biochemical test may be performed. Electrolyte abnormalities may be present.

  • An electrocardiogram (EKG) is often needed to monitor for cardiac arrhythmias.

    Additional diagnostic tests may be recommended on an individual pet basis, including:

  • Arterial blood gas determinations may be needed to identify complications of shock.

  • Repeat biochemistries if initial tests are abnormal.

  • Blood lactate. This test may be prognostic as a higher level indicates a worse prognosis. It is believed that lactate levels greater than 6 mmol/L is associated with an increased mortality.

  • Coagulation studies should be done and fibrinogen levels should be tested to identify disseminated intravascular coagulopathy.

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