What is gastric lavage?

Do you want to know in which cases gastric lavage is performed and what is the procedure that is followed? Today you will find out in this article.

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Gastric lavage, as Bugarin et al. Well point out:  «it is a gastrointestinal decontamination technique» . The objective of this procedure is to eliminate toxic substances that are in the gastric cavity and that are putting the patient’s health at risk.

People who have had to go through a gastric lavage experience know that it is not a very pleasant thing . In fact, it is quite painful and uncomfortable. However, sometimes it is inevitable to have to go through this process, since otherwise the death of the patient may occur.

How is a gastric lavage done?

The way to perform gastric lavage is always the same way. This should be done only by trained professionals . The appropriate material must be available, which we will present below:

  • Gastric tube: essential to carry out the probing.
  • Water-soluble lubricant: to prevent the tube from damaging the walls of the esophagus and slipping easily.
  • Syringe: to administer the solution that will allow lavage of the gastric cavity.
  • Stethoscope: it allows to hear if the solution is being administered correctly inside the gastric cavity.
  • Washingsolution: it is an isotonic saline solution that is usually administered up to 300 ml in adults and 15 ml in children.
  • Aspiration equipment: it is responsible for aspirating the contents of the gastric cavity.

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Steps to follow

Now that we know the elements that are necessary to perform a gastric lavage, we are going to see the steps that are followed so that it has the desired effect. To begin, the patient is usually placed on his side before introducing the gastric tube,  which will be properly lubricated, through the mouth or nose.

With the help of the stethoscope, you will hear if the tube is approaching the entrance to the stomach or not. Its proper placement can be facilitated so that it continues its way to the stomach by introducing some air with the help of the syringe.

When the tube finally reaches the stomach, the lavage solution will be introduced through the syringe. The entire contents of the gastric cavity will then be aspirated. This will be done multiple times until you are sure that the wash is complete.

Issues to consider

Some issues to keep in mind is that the patient should always be on the side when carrying out this procedure. In addition, if it starts to cough, the gastric tube must be removed immediately . Otherwise, this can cause you to drown.

Also, it must be ensured that the liquid that flows through the tube does so easily . If not, it may not be properly positioned or there may be some kind of pressure on one of its parts. If there is any doubt, it should be withdrawn and reintroduced.

When removing the tube it should be done gently . Occasionally, esophageal spasms occur during these procedures . It may feel like the tube is stuck. This is why it is so important not to skimp on lubricant when you first insert the tube.

After washing, activated charcoal is supplied to the patient. This is an excellent ally to aid detoxification. The amount will depend on whether it is an adult or a child who will receive it.

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Gastric lavage in poisonings

Gastric lavage is carried out when poisoning occurs . But, not all of them take place. To do this, acute poisoning and life-threatening must be considered. These are some of the cases in which a gastric lavage is done:

  • Ingesting poison or some potentially toxic substance.
  • Accidental or voluntary overdose.

However, gastric lavage may also be performed if tests involving the stomach are to be performed. This is the case, for example, a gastroscopy or endoscopy .

One of the consequences of undergoing gastric lavage can be having bloating . For this reason, and because it is an aggressive procedure, it is only performed in the cases already mentioned.

Have you ever been through the experience of gastric lavage? As we have said, it is not something very pleasant due to the introduction of the tube and the subsequent stomach wash. However, in some cases, it is inevitable.

 

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