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Gastric lavage

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Lavage means washing out. Gastric lavage is a medical procedure that is performed to wash out the contents of your stomach under emergency circumstances. It is also known as stomach pumping, gastric or stomach irrigation and nasogastric lavage.

Purpose of gastric lavage

Gastric lavage is usually performed on a patient who have swallowed significant amount of poison or household chemical like phenyl, over consumed alcohol and has overdosed on drug. However, the procedure may not be effective if you delay in reaching your hospital, the best is to rush get it done within 60 minutes of consuming the fatal substances.

Apart from this, gastric irrigation might also be performed to empty stomach post gastrectomy. It also helps to evaluate bleeding in upper gastrointestinal tract due to haemorrhage. Your doctor might also consider decontaminating your stomach if you vomit blood while undergoing endoscopy.

How is gastric lavage performed?

The stomach is irrigated with the help of a special tube known as lubricated lavage tube or Ewald tube. It is inserted via mouth or the nose and is downed exactly into the stomach. The position of the tube into the stomach is confirmed by chest X ray (CXR) before performing the suction. Following this a certain amount of saline solution is administered via the lavage tube (to help retain electrolyte balance of balance while stomach contents are suctioned out) in to the stomach and then it is suctioned out with the help of the pump. The contents of the stomach are collected in a separate vessel. Administration and flushing technique is continued until the toxins get completely eliminated.

Pre-assembled kits (with or without activated charcoal) are available these days which are much easy to use.


How to prepare for gastric lavage?

There’s no preparation if it’s an emergency situation for it needs to be performed immediately to get rid of the toxins as soon as possible.
If it’s a part of a surgery then you may be asked to fast whole night. Let your doctor know the medicines you are taking as certain medicines need to be stopped before undergoing gastric lavage.

What happens during the procedure?

You will be asked to lie down on the hospital bed while the tube is being inserted. Gag reflex would occur while downing the lavage tube. Slight irritation in throat might occur after removing the tube

What to expect after the procedure?

You can go home once the procedure is over. However, your doctor will examine your vital signs before releasing you from hospital. In case the tube is retained in your stomach then you have to stay in hospital until it’s removed.

Are there any risks associated with gastric lavage?

One of the major risks of gastric lavage is mixing of stomach contents in the lungs which leads infection and abscess in lungs. This is known as aspiration pneumonia. Apart from that, minor chances of oesophageal injury, bleeding, hypoxia and choking also lie when the tube is passed into stomach.

Children might suffer from water intoxication during the process.

Gastric lavage is used very rarely and is not a regular process to remove toxins from stomach as in the present age several effective antidotes are available to eliminate poisons from the body.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: December 29, 2014

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