“An Ounce of Prevention- What’s it really worth?” The Gastropexy Conundrum.

Posted: August 7, 2012 in At Home with dogs., German Shepherd, Omorrow German Shepherds, Veterinary Considerations, Working Dogs

If you’ve hung around this blog long enough, or the Facebook page, you know that I have no qualms about questioning the Veterinary arts.  I’ve railed about vaccination protocols, as well as the flea and tick medications they foist on us annually.  But I’ve also commended and supported GOOD Veterinarians.  They are, usually, a noble and honorable breed.

That’s what I want to write about now, because it seems that some will always look at our Veterinarians as  money-grubbing business moguls, rather than as compassionate professionals.  Maybe I’ve been guilty of promoting that feeling.  It has never been my intent to do that…

Recently a question came up on the Omorrow German Shepherd Facebook Page that made me stop and re-evaluate how I view several things veterinarea…A new member of our Pack,( I’ll call her Julie because that’s her name) has a beautiful new puppy that she has named Mora.  She will soon be having her baby spayed, and her Vet has suggested to her that it is a good time for some pre-emptive medicine.  Here’s part of her post.

“Okay Pack, I have a question for you. Mora’s vet has indicated that during the time that he spays her, he can also tack her stomach in place so that she won’t ever have bloat. While this sounds like a good idea in one way, it also kind of scares me because I feel like there could be future problems involved with her stomach being unable to move naturally. What do we think? 

First, I applaud you Julie on asking questions!!!  Secondly, I’d like to lecture your Vet on “How to Explain Veterinary Procedures to Your Clients”.  You can go ahead and explain that the Greek word Gastro,English-language prefix derived from the ancient Greek gastros (“stomach“). and   “plexia, -plexy,  suffix meaning “condition resulting from a crippling or serious occurrence”:    well describe this dreaded medical condition.  Secondly, and most exuberantly:


(Sorry…I’m back now.)    What it does it prevent the stomach from flipping around and becomoing twisted while it is distended in the condition we call “Bloat”.  Bloat can still occur after this preventative is performed.  And, please Veterinarians…Treat your clients as intelligent adults, though maybe less educated in the veterinary sciences.  The proper nom de plume  for “Bloat” is ,” GastricDilatation and Volvulus(GDV).”  If you explain it to us, we’ll figure it out, and we’ll become acquainted with your language.  And please, don’t say, “We’ll tack her stomach in place…”  This sounds horrific and unprofessional simultaneously.  With your help, the name for the procedure, “Gastropexy”, will be easily understood.  All right, I’m finished lecturing these fine professionals about bedside manner.  And enough fooling around, bandying about semantics.

I actually support the idea of the Veterinary Surgeon performing Gastropexy as a preventative.  Under the right circumstances.  (Let THAT soak in for a moment folks, it surprised me as well.)

Gastroplexy is normally performed when a dog is spayed or neutered.  The dog is already sedated, and the proper incisions are made.  (Usually two, about an inch long on opposite sides)  Using a Laparoscopic device, fed into the small incisions, light and vision can be provided for the surgeon.  The other device can either suture the stomach wall to the body cavity, or even be cauterized by a surgical laser.  Recovery time is shortened, and infection is mitigated.

In an attempt to  not reduce this to a crass discussion of money,  doing the Gastropexy as an Elective surgery is much less expensive that an Emergency Procedure in which your dog is already suffering a great deal of pain and anguish.  Emergency surgery can cost ranging from $7000.00 to $10,000.00.  Elective Preventative about 1/3 that amount.  (Approximates!)

Is it necessary?  Maybe not.  Many German Shepherds live long lives and never suffer GDV.  Others die very young, and quite painfully from it.  If you have the surgery performed, and your dog never suffers GDV, did the surgery create that happy occasion?

Does it give some peace of mind?  Yes it does.

Is it absolutely guaranteed?  Nothing is absolute.

Are there risks involved?  Honestly, yes.  Anytime a living body is opened, there are the possibilities of infection.  In this case, they are minimal.  Is anesthesia a risk?  Yes it is…It always is…

Nothing good seems to come without effort and risk.

I believe that the basic reason why our Vets are suggesting Gastroplexic surgery is simple.  The technique has been well established, and is safe and effective.  No Veterinarian wants to do an Emergency Surgery on a dog that is suffering, and in pain, scared out of it’s mind.  Better to do it while he has been relaxed, and put under while comfortable.

Will the Veterinarian make money doing this procedure?  Yes, absolutely.  But so what?  He or she is operating a small business, and has overhead and education to pay for.  You get paid to do your job don’t you?

I believe that Gastroplexy can be a beneficial procedure.  But YOU must discuss it with your Vet, and make your own decision!  Your Vet Must explain the procedure to you in detail, and allow you the  dignity of knowing what’s happening.

I saw no need to give you full procedural description of this procedure.  You and your Vet can do that together.  I’m giving you MY educated opinion on how I feel.  Now get out of this blog, and fire up Google under the heading, “Gastroplexy!”  School is in session…

“This won’t hurt a bit….”


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