Gastrotomy/Foreign Body Removal

Description: GASTROTOMY is a surgical procedure performed by making an incision into the stomach. It is often performed to remove foreign material from the stomach of a dog or cat. It is also indicated to obtain biopsies of stomach tissue, or to remove masses (tumors) in the stomach.

Symptoms: Acute (sudden) vomiting or retching; excessive salivation; inability to keep water and/or food down; history of eating inappropriate things (toys, sticks, rocks, etc); decreased or no appetite; pain on palpation of abdomen; severe lethargy.

What to look for: X-rays and/or ultrasound may show actual foreign material in the stomach, or may indicate a mass in the stomach. Blood testing may indicate infection (elevated white blood cell count), dehydration, or other abnormalities.

Dog Teeth

What questions do we ask?

  • How long have you noticed vomiting?

  • Describe the vomit:

  • How often does your pet vomit?

  • Does it occur at a particular time?

  • Can she/ she keep anything down, including water?

  • Similar episodes in the past?

  • Any recent changes in appetite?

  • If eating, does your pet eat fast?

  • What kind of food are/ were you feeding? How much per day? What times? Table scraps/ treats?

  • Any recent changes in diet/ food fed? New bags of food? How old is the current bag of food?

  • Diarrhea or straining to defecate?

  • Could your pet have ingested anything abnormal? If so, what, and how much?

  • Have you tried anything at home?

  • Contact with other animals? Is anyone else sick?

  • Current on vaccinations?

  • Any changes in activity level or behavior?

  • Is the patient on any medications? Include dosage and frequency.

What are the steps we take to treat your pet?

  • We begin with a thorough physical exam, including palpation of the abdomen, rectal exam, and temperature when possible.

  • Abdominal radiographs (x-rays), and occasionally abdominal ultrasound, are typically indicated to check for foreign material, masses, bloat, or other abnormalities.

  • General blood testing to check for dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, protein levels, infections, anemias, etc. is recommended.

What are potential treatment plans?

  • Intravenous catheter is placed and fluids, injectable antinausea and antibiotic medications if indicated.
  • General anesthesia is needed for gastrotomy, with extraction of the foreign material if indicated, or potential biopsies of stomach tissue, or gastric mass excision if indicated.
  • Hospitalization is often indicated depending on the extent of the surgery and finding.
  • Oral medications (antibiotics, pain / anti-inflammatory and antinausea medications) are indicated once the patient is eating and drinking.

How do we arrive at a diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan?

  • We arrive at a diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan based on test results (x-rays, ultrasound, blood testing), and patient history (did your pet ingest something?).

What results have we seen


What are the risks if left untreated?

  • Foreign material left in the stomach has the potential to move into the intestines and cause a blockage, and potentially rupture leading to peritonitis and potentially death.

  • A mass in the stomach can lead to severe inflammation, infection, bleeding, and potentially ulceration. If the mass is malignant (cancerous) it can also metastasize to distant areas in the body


Animal Doctor Provider

Dr. Arneson