Luka reaches Hermitage Vets in time and survives 3.5 hour surgery
GDV to vets means gastric dilation-volvulus – always an emergency, usually bad news. To the lay person GDV means twisted stomach and bloat and for a dog GDV usually means you haven’t got very long to live.
Anyone who owns a giant breed dog or deep chested dogs such as a mastiff or a boxer should be aware of this condition as it is one of those true emergencies when every minute counts.
On Thursday 14th July, Luka a 70kg Mastiff became unwell. His owners had heard of GDV and when they saw his abdomen swell up with classic signs of bloat they knew it was time to rush him in.
By the time Luka barely walked in to Hermitage Vets, in Lucan at around 4:20pm and then collapsed on the waiting room floor. I was in the middle of a consultation but when I heard a bang on the door I knew something was up. The diagnosis was obvious and I knew we hadn’t much time. The Hermitage team rushed into action. Luka was deteriorating rapidly, his stomach was severely bloated, so much so it was difficult for him to breathe. We rushed him into prep and started him on IV fluids and attempted to pass a stomach tube to decompress the stomach, followed by inserting a needle into the stomach to relieve the gas but neither of these was successful. He need surgery right away. The nurses prepped him for surgery while we informed his owners of the situation. We called in a vet from one of our other clinics to assist. The waiting room was chaos as owners and pets started arriving for appointments, there was nothing we could do but to turn all non emergencies away and try to cancel the rest of the evening appointments.
The first 10 minutes of anaesthesia was critical, Luka was descending into shock and our nurses were working hard to keep him breathing. We were almost at the point of relieving the bloat when he stopped breathing – luckily the nurses were calm and experienced and knew what they were doing. They artificially resuscitated him while we rushed to decompress the stomach. Once the stomach was decompressed he began to breathe normally again and his vital signs improved. His heart rate slowed to normal and his gums became a nice pink colour again. We had a long road ahead but we felt we had a chance.
Next step was to untwist the stomach and then we did a procedure to anchor part of his stomach to his body wall so it could not twist again. About 3 hours later we were out of surgery. We knew he would need careful monitoring overnight so we sent him to the Pet Emergency Hospital for the night.
As a vet it gave me great comfort to speak with vets there – they have so much experience of these types of emergencies, they knew exactly what they were doing and someone would be by Luka’s side all night.
Luka wobbled home the next day and was nursed carefully by his dedicated owners. He was so quiet and dull but I felt positive for him. This week I was so thrilled when he bounded in the door on Monday evening – he was back to his usual self, giving me the paw and trying to lick my face. I am also so proud of the team here in Lucan – GDV’s are such extreme emergencies and so often end in fatality. Everything has to go right to succeed.
We had a great combination that day – owners who brilliant and got him in straight away. 4 nurses and 2 vets who worked together brilliantly, the staff at the Pet Emergency Hospital who got Luka through the night – and of course Luka himself- who has been to the edge and back!