ISSN 2398-2969      

Gastric dilation and stasis

Clapis

Introduction

  • One of the most common problems in rabbits.
  • The gastrointestinal system of the rabbit is designed to be in a state of constant movement (peristalsis). Any factor that slows or stops this movement will result in gastric stasis and subsequent gastric dilation.
  • Cause: factors that slow peristalsis are low-fiber diet, stress (via the release of adrenaline), lack of exercise, pain, over-heating, eating chilled/frozen food.
  • Signs: anorexia, pain, abdominal distension, dehydration: fluids are drawn away from the ingesta in the stomach which compacts into a hard mass.
  • Diagnosis: history, signs, radiography.
  • Treatment: fluids, drugs to increase gut motility, correct predisposing conditions and analgesics for pain relief.
  • Prognosis: generally good if diagnosed early enough and treatment and management changes are successful. A rabbit with reduced peristalsis has a high risk of developing cecal dysbiosis and enterotoxemia Enterotoxemia (Clostridiosis).

Print off the Owner factsheets on Gastrointestinal stasisIt's an emergency and Health insurance for your rabbit to give to your clients.

Presenting signs

  • Non-specific pain.
  • Inactivity.
  • Non-responsive.
  • Tense abdomen.
  • Absence/altered number/size of fecal pellets.

Acute presentation

  • As above.
  • Collapsed.
  • Cyanosed.
  • Dyspneic.

Geographic incidence

  • None, although may be especially seen in hot climates/after a hot snap.

Cost considerations

  • Cost may be significant if surgery is required or prolonged intensive care in hospital.

Special risks

  • Very toxic.
  • Pressure of viscera on respiratory system.
  • Increased anesthetic risks.

Pathogenesis

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Di Girolamo N, Toth G & Selleri P (2016) Prognostic value of rectal temperature at hospital admission in client-owned rabbits. J Am Vet Med Assoc 248 (3), 288-297 PubMed.
  • Huynh M, Vilmouth S, Gonzalez M S et al (2014) Retrospective cohort study of gastrointestinal stasis in pet rabbits. Vet Rec 175 (9), 225 PubMed.
  • Johansen K (2014) The nurses' role in managing gut stasis in rabbits. The Vet Nurse (5), 252-257 VetMedResource.
  • Schuhmann B & Cope I (2014) Medical treatment of 145 cases of gastric dilatation in rabbits. Vet Rec 175 (19), 484 PubMed.
  • Lord B (2012) Companion animal practice: gastrointestinal disease in rabbits 1. Gastric diseases. In Practice 34 (2), 90-6 VetMedResource.
  • Harcourt-Brown F M (2007) Gastric dilation and intestinal obstruction in 76 rabbits. Vet Rec 161 (12), 409-414 PubMed.
  • Hillyer E V (1994) Pet rabbits. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 24 (1), 25-65 PubMed.
  • Jackson G (1991) Intestinal stasis and rupture in rabbits. Vet Rec 129 (13), 287-289 PubMed.
  • Gillett N A, Brooks D L & Tillman P C (1983) Medical and surgical management of gastric obstruction from a hairball in the rabbit. JAVMA 183 (11), 1176-1178 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Lichtenberger M (2008) Gastrointestinal Emergencies in Rabbits. In: Proc 51st Annual BSAVA Congress. pp 157-159.
  • Richardson V C (2000) Rabbits, Health, Husbandry and Diseases. Blackwell Science, UK.
  • Brown S A (1998) Rabbit Gastrointestinal Physiology and Disease. In: Proc 41st Annual BSAVA Congress.

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