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  • #1899

    My boxer, Sally recently passed away after she developed bloat. We are devastated. She survived the worst, the initial operation. However, after three days she suffered heart failure and although she again recovered, not three hours later she died. I would like to know if this is a common complication and why does it occur? 😥

    Dr. Jeff Feinman

    [quote=jennie] I would like to know if this is a common complication and why does it occur?[/quote]

    Good morning-

    I’m so sorry for your loss of Sally.

    Death from GDV (Gastric Dilatation with Volvulus) can occur quickly [i]mainly[/i] due to oxygen starvation of the tissues. When the stomach flips it carries with it the surrounding tissues including the blood supply to most of the vital organs. Unless this is restored quickly (by decompressing and getting the stomach back to its’ normal position) death ensues.

    The other heartbreaking part of this disease (and what probably caused Sally’s death) occurs post-operatively. This can be due to reperfusion injury (as well as electrolyte abnornalities, stomach necrosis, etc.). When the blood supply is restored, the organs and tissues release [b]toxic mediators[/b] into the bloodstream (like lactic acid coming from sore muscles after a strenuous workout). The most serious effect from this is on the heart.

    Irregularities of the heart (known as VPCs or ventricular premature contractions) can compromise the pumping of blood. Not every patient develops a serious problem with VPCs. That’s why these patients are always hooked up to a heart monitor post-surgically. When necessary, medications (like lidocaine) can usually keep the VPCs under control.

    So actually it’s not a heart attack (which is due to cardiac dysfunction due to a clot or arterial plaque) per se that kills these post-op dogs but an irregularity of the electrical conduction system of the heart that leads to ventricular fibrillation.

    Again, I’m sorry for your loss but thanks for asking this great question.

    BTW-This article: [url]http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/24500.htm[/url][url]
    has a good section on why dogs die after the stomach has been repositioned.[/url]

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