Gastric lavage is one of the gastrointestinal tract disinfection methods that a doctor can use to empty the stomach contents when necessary quickly.
When is gastric lavage used?
If you swallow the poison or take a lot of pills, your doctor may prescribe gastric lavage. If you eat something toxic like household chemicals, go to the hospital as soon as possible. Gastric lavage is most effective if less than four hours have passed since the poison was taken.
In addition to the above, your doctor may use treatment for the following:
- Stomach acid sampling
- If the intestines become blocked, reduce the pressure on the intestines.
- The suction of blood in case of gastric bleeding
- Gastric lavage in case of blood vomiting in upper gastrointestinal endoscopy
- To perform safe surgery and limit the risk of aspiration pneumonia;
- To reduce stomach pressure during auxiliary ventilation in the hospital.
How to prepare for gastric lavage?
If you do a gastric lavage due to food or chemical poisoning, overdose, or other emergencies, you will not have time to prepare in advance. But if your doctor wants to use this method to take a stomach acid sample for testing, they may ask you to fast before doing so or to refrain from taking certain medications.
How is gastric lavage done?
Before doing this, your doctor may give you a medicine to numb your throat. This reduces stiffness and irritates the throat. It then inserts a tube into the mouth or nose and inserts it through the esophagus into the stomach. The esophagus is the duct that connects your mouth to your stomach.
Before rinsing your stomach, your doctor may spray water or saline solution into your tube. The saline solution protects you from electrolyte imbalances that may occur when fluid is expelled from your stomach. Then the gastric lavage process begins, and the stomach’s juice is removed.
What are the dangers of gastric lavage?
This process can be annoying. You may feel nauseous when inserting the tube. After that, your throat may become sore.
This method can have more severe risks. One of the most common is aspiration pneumonia. This happens when some of the stomach contents enter the lungs or airways.
Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia include:
- Chest pain;
- Chest tightness;
- Cough with sputum;
- Bluish skin color;
This danger occurs if the pipe goes out of place. Gastric lavage by emptying the stomach before the contents enter the airways protects you from aspiration pneumonia.
Other risks of gastric lavage include:
- Spasm of the vocal cords that temporarily prevents normal breathing.
- Making a hole in the esophagus with a tube;
- Pouring the contents of the stomach into the intestines;
- Gastrointestinal damage;
- Minor bleeding;
- Hypoxia or lack of oxygen;
- Hypothermia or frostbite.
In general, gastric lavage should be done sparingly. The amount of toxin removed by gastric lavage is often tiny, especially after the first hour. There are a few situations where the benefits outweigh the risks. A doctor should only prescribe this. If you have any concerns about this procedure, talk to your doctor. Your doctor will help you better understand the potential benefits and risks.
Frequently Asked Questions about gastric lavage:
Under what circumstances should gastric lavage not be performed?
Poisoning in young children;
Unprotected airway where the level of consciousness is reduced, or there is danger.
Poisoning with the use of caustic substances;
What is the most important thing to do to wash your stomach?
If you or those around you are poisoned, go to the hospital as soon as possible.
Does gastric lavage hurt?
The amount of pain varies from patient to patient. But usually, nausea is more than pain.
What to eat after gastric lavage?
Avoid fatty foods after gastric lavage. Try to eat fast-digesting, low-fat foods. Consumption of water and drinks containing electrolytes is also beneficial.