Case File

A swollen abdomen and retching - a Case Story

by Chris Griffiths - BVSc MRCVS Veterinary Surgeon

Luna is a 10-year-old German Shepherd who presented to the vets with a swollen abdomen and a history of retching that morning and not feeling herself after eating breakfast.



On examination Luna was very depressed and lethargic and her tummy was very uncomfortable and swollen. These signs are very worrying especially in this breed and time was of the essence, so Luna was admitted into the Portishead Practice straight away for further investigations.

We gave Luna some sedative and pain relief medication to make her feel more comfortable and allow us to take an x-ray of her abdomen. The x-ray confirmed our suspicion of a GDV (Gastric Dilation and Volvulus) where the stomach becomes excessively bloated with gas and twists (as seen in the image below, the red line shows the bloated and twisted stomach).



This is very serious, not only is having a bloated stomach very painful but when twisted, the stomach can cut off a major blood supply to the body and organs. This normally occurs after eating a dry biscuit diet followed by exercise and is most common in large breed dogs with deep chests. This is life threatening if not diagnosed and treated promptly.



We checked Luna’s blood tests to ensure she was stable, passed a tube down Luna’s oesophagus into the stomach to decompress the stomach from gas and proceeded straight to surgery. This involved untwisting the stomach, checking all her other organs weren’t affected by the condition. Luckily for Luna everything seemed normal, and no further surgery was required. To prevent this from re-occurring we sutured the stomach to the body wall, this is vital and will prevent the stomach from twisting in the future. Overall, the surgery went very well with the whole team at Watkins & Tasker Vets helping in the surgery set up, preparing equipment and recovery for Luna. Thanks to Luna's owner for their swift recognition of the symptoms and bringing her into the vets immediately, Luna recovered smoothly was discharged from the Practice a few days later and is now enjoying life back to normal again!