A few weeks ago, Angel, a sweet 7 year old Great Dane wasn’t feeling well – she was very weak and her abdomen looked bigger than usual. Fortunately for Angel, her owners recognized the signs and sought immediate veterinary attention. Sure enough, Angel was experiencing every large, deep chested dog owner’s worse nightmare – she was “bloating”. Angel’s stomach had filled with air and then twisted on itself so that the accumulated air could not escape. Technically called Gastric Dilation and Vovulus (GDV) it is a true veterinary emergency. As more and more air gets trapped in the stomach, blood flow to the spleen and stomach is severely compromised, the dog will experience electrolyte abnormalities and go into shock. These dogs will die within a matter of hours without emergency surgery.
Immediate x-rays and blood work confirmed the diagnosis so Angel was started on IV fluids and rushed into surgery – at 11:30 on a Saturday night! Dr. Palmer was able to surgically relieve the air build up and untwist her stomach so that it was back in the proper position. Her spleen however had suffered extensive damage and had to be removed. The spleen has many blood vessels and traditional surgery involves clamping and tying off each individual blood vessel – a very time consuming process in a critically ill patient. For Angel however, Dr. Palmer was able to use the Ligasure unit which uses a unique combination of energy and pressure to fuse and then cut blood vessels very quickly – dramatically reducing the amount of time Angel needed to be in surgery and under general anesthesia. Her spleen weighed over three pounds! Dr. Palmer then performed a gastropexy which involves attaching a portion of the outer surface of the stomach to the body wall so that the stomach cannot twist out of place in the future.
Angel recovered well from her surgery and was a model patient during her stay with us. We are happy to know she is doing well at home.