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A partial gastrectomy is used to remove a portion of the stomach when it is diseased or contains deadened tissue. The stomach then must be sewn back together to resume function. While this procedure is often successful for tumor removal, it can be more complicated when used in emergency scenarios and should only be performed by a board-certified veterinary surgeon. The surgery is needed most often in pets that present with vomiting, listlessness, decreased appetite and excessive drooling. Regular blood work may show abnormalities suggesting cancer. A biopsy will often be performed in addition to ultrasonic imaging to confirm the presence of a tumor or growth in the stomach.
To determine if a partial gastrectomy is the proper treatment for the dog, certain tests may be needed. If cancerous tumors are suspected, ultrasounds or advanced imaging techniques such as CT scans or MRIs will be used to locate all growths. Endoscopy may fail to reveal tumors that have developed underneath the mucosa. Blood work will be run to determine if the dog is stable enough to receive general anesthesia. In the case of partial gastrectomy resulting from GDV, the decision to excise a portion of the stomach will be made upon visualization of deadened tissue.
If surgery is deemed appropriate, it will be booked. To begin the operation, any fluid in the abdomen will need to be drained out. The dog will be intubated and a catheter will be placed. It is likely that monitoring with an electrocardiogram will be necessary throughout the procedure. The abdomen will then be shaved, and an incision will be made down the center. Once opened, the surgeon will explore the abdominal cavity to assess how much damage exists or if multiple tumors are present. The stomach will then be incised and its contents drained. All affected areas will be removed and the gastric opening will be sutured back together in layers. The abdominal incision will then be closed using sutures or staples.
The overall outlook for the dog will very much depend on the underlying issue that caused the surgery to be necessary. Up to 50% of the stomach can be removed without any major loss of organ function. The procedure is permanent, but does not prevent new cancerous growths from forming.
Chemotherapy will be needed in addition to surgery in many cases. In some dogs, treatment will be palliative despite receiving a successful surgical procedure. A few cancers may be cured completely by a partial gastrectomy if done early in the disease’s progression. If the procedure is done during an emergency GDV surgical intervention, survival rates are as low as 37%, but death is often the alternative to surgical intervention.
The dog will be kept in hospital for up to three days after the operation. It will be monitored during this time to ensure it stays in stable condition. A feeding tube will be used until the dog resumes regular eating. Pain medication will be administered orally, transdermally, or with injections. Antiemetics will be used to reduce nausea. A follow-up appointment will be needed two weeks after the surgery to assess healing and remove sutures. All activity should be limited for three weeks following the partial gastrectomy to help prevent the formation of ulcers. If cancer has been found in the dog, a course of chemotherapy will likely be started at this time.
The cost for a partial gastrectomy will range from $1,000 all the way up to $8,000 depending on the specific situation. Advanced imaging often costs around $1,000 on its own, and if the diagnostic process involves biopsies or endoscopy, prices will increase. Some may opt to proceed using only chemotherapy, as length of life may not be greatly extended with surgery for certain cancers.
Complications during surgery are uncommon, unless the dog is having emergency surgery to treat GDV. Issues with anesthesia, infections, ulcer development, or the incision opening are all risk factors associated with a partial gastrectomy. If the dog has cancer, it may grow back rapidly after surgery. For many dogs, survival will be less than one year due to metastasization.
There is often no alternative to a partial gastrectomy in dogs who have suffered tissue death from GDV, although limited success has been reported from using a controversial procedure called gastric invagination.
Cancer of the stomach is found more often in Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Rough Collie, and Belgian Shepherd dog breeds. If you have an affected breed or if your dog is older in age, having semi-annual blood work run may help identify cancers at their early stages. Protecting your dog from known toxins and carcinogens such as car exhaust and cigarette smoke may also reduce the chance of cancer forming in the animal, and will be healthier for the owners as well.
Gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV) is seen most often in large, deep-chested dog breeds like the Great Dane, German Shepherd Dog and Doberman Pinscher. To prevent GDV, do not allow your dog to run immediately before or after eating. Feeding your dog multiple, smaller meals throughout the day can also reduce the chance of the stomach bloating. It is also thought that there is a genetic factor in GDV development.
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My 4 year old female Lab needed a partial gastrectomy. Almost half of her stomach was dead. A sample was sent out to a lab and it was not cancerous. I am concerned as to her recovery. Everything I have read states that this is a very serious surgery and many dogs do not survive. She is home with us now, sutures and staples removed and is eating four small meals a day.
July 26, 2017
Most complications from partial gastrectomy come immediately after surgery from secondary infections or dehiscence of sutures. The part of the stomach removed will also have a bearing on her diet; your Veterinarian would have advised you on dietary changes that are needed. I cannot give you any guarantees, but your Veterinarian should be able to give you a better idea of prognosis post surgery. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
July 26, 2017
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