The result is a catastrophic collapse of multiple body systems, caused by the twisted stomach losing its blood supply and starting to die.
Multiple nasty chemicals get dumped into the circulation, spread around the body, and cause massive damage to blood vessels, heart, lungs, intestines, pretty much everything.
A twisted stomach that is identified within the first hour, has about an 80-90% survival chance, assuming there are no other complications (such as an elderly patient, or pre-existing heart disease etc). The impact of the changes mentioned above mean the survival chances drop by about half with every hour delay.
Large, deep-chested dogs, are those most at risk. They may present with a suddenly enlarging abdomen, repeated unsuccessful attempts to vomit, and rapid, shallow breathing. But the signs can be more subtle than that.
Clooney is a 7-year-old poodle cross, who was collected from his boarding kennels and noticed immediately to be not quite right. On getting home he drank some water and promptly vomited it back up. Clooney was brought down to the clinic immediately and was found to have a distended abdomen, with x-ray showing classic signs of a GDV.
Clooney went straight to surgery and had the twist corrected, and the stomach permanently fixed to the abdominal wall to prevent it twisting again. Clooney made a very rapid recovery, and was home again in a couple of days.
This was a great result, and as always we so much appreciate it when problems are brought in nice and early. In almost every case it makes things much easier, especially with the nightmare that we call GDV.
Paul Eason BVM&S MANZCVS (Surgery; Emergency and Critical Care Medicine)