Gastropexy: safeguarding against life-threatening "bloat"

Dr. Meghan Sullivan takes a moment with "Murphy" before performing his laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy procedure to protect him from potentially deadly "Bloat."

Earlier this month, Angell board-certified surgeon Dr. Meghan Sullivan took a moment to snuggle with her patient “Murphy” (pictured here), a Swiss Mountain dog visiting Angell to be neutered.  Murphy underwent a laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy at the same time of his routine neuter procedure. This simple, elective, non-invasive surgery is a preventative procedure to protect against life-threatening GDV (gastric dilatation-volvulus a.k.a. “Bloat” or "Torsion Bloat") which is an extremely costly and life-threatening emergency condition in which the stomach flips over and expands, trapping air and gases in the stomach. Because circulation to the stomach and spleen are cut off, the condition is fatal.[1][2] 

What is a gastropexy?
In gastropexy, the stomach is tacked to the right side of the abdominal wall, so it cannot shift or twist.[3][4] As with Murphy, the procedure can be conducted laparoscopically as well. Gastropexy is an effective preventive against death from torsion bloat in large dogs. In studies of dogs treated for bloat, of those with gastropexy, only 4.3% had a re-occurrence of bloat, compared to 54.5% of those dogs that did not have a gastropexy.[5]

What are the signs of GDV?
GDV often occurs quite suddenly and shortly after your dog consumes a large meal. Your dog may become anxious and restless and begin to pant. He or she may look or lick at her abdomen, stand wide-stanced, drool, salivate and fail at attempts to vomit and retch. As time goes by, your dog's abdomen will begin to enlarge and s/he will be in considerable pain. If these dogs are not brought to a veterinarian soon, the problem usually progresses to weakness, collapse and shock. Getting your dog to an emergency facility as quickly as possible is crucial.

Any large breed or giant breed dog should be considered for this procedure to prevent GDV. It can be done at the same time as the spay or neuter of the pet, is minimally-invasive, and involves a quick recovery. It can also be done at any time even if your pet is already neutered. Please call our surgery team or Dr. Sullivan at 617-541-5048 or e-mail to discuss this procedure for your pet.


  1. Canine Gastropexy
  2.  "Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), Bloat and Torsion", Dr. Ron Hines, All Creature Care, April 21, 2006.
  3.  "Key gastrointestinal surgeries - Incisional gastropexy," by K. Watson & K.M. Tobias, Veterinary Medicine, Vol 101(4), 213+, 2006.
  4.  "A rapid and strong laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy in dogs," C.A. Rawlings, T.L. Foutz, M.B. Mahaffey, et al., American Journal of Veterinary Research, Vol 62, pages 871–875, 2001.
  5. "A prospective study of survival and recurrence following the acute gastric dilatation-volvulus syndrome in 136 dogs," L.T. Glickman, G.C. Lantz, D.B. Schellenberg, & N.W. Glickman. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, Vol 34, pages 253–259, 1998.