Acute gastric dilation

Revision as of 02:11, 8 January 2017 by Mackeym2 (talk | contribs) (Differential Diagnosis)


  • Rare event
  • Invariable leads to necrosis with or without perforation
  • Most commonly a post-operative complication



  • Intragastric pressure >20mmHg leads to impaired intramural blood flow and mucosal necrosis
  • Gastric volumes greater than 4 liters lead to regular mucosal tears
  • Patients with pathologic eating disorders can have larger gastric volumes at baseline
  • Acute massive gastric dilation is an extreme form (intragastric pressure >30)

Clinical Features

  • Emesis is typical symptom in 90% of cases
  • Inability to vomit seen in massive distention
  • Other features include:
    • Abdominal distention
    • Abdominal pain
    • Signs of peritonitis after perforation

Differential Diagnosis


  • Typical work up for abdominal pain
  • Upright chest x-ray and abdominal series to assess for free air
    • Can identify large distended stomach on x-ray
  • CT imaging if safe and indicated


  • Nasogastric or orogastric decompression is first line therapy
    • Typically a large special tube required which is placed under anesthesiologist supervision in OR
  • Resuscitation with fluids and intravenous antibiotics as indicated
  • If conservative measures fail or gastric infarction suspected, surgical intervention mandatory
  • If gastric necrosis or perforation not recognized and treatment delayed, mortality reaches 80%


  • Patient may require emergent surgical decompression
  • If improvement with non-operative decompression, may require admission for continued monitoring

See Also

External Links