Gastric irrigation, which is also known as stomach pumping, is the process of clearing the contents of the stomach. Many conditions may require the procedure of gastric irrigation but the ultimate reason is always clearance of a toxic material from the gut. Gastric irrigation is a complicated process and requires some recovery time after it has been done.
In this article, we are discussing everything that a stomach pumping entails and how to go through it with minimum discomfort.
What does the procedure actually entail?
Gastric irrigation is the process of physically emptying out the stomach by washing its inner lining with some liquid medicine, which will neutralize its internal environment. The gastroenterologist first inserts a tube in the mouth or the nose, which goes directly into the stomach. This tube is then used to splash the stomach with some solution, which is usually saline.
After the gastroenterologist has flushed the solutions into the stomach, the next step is to suck the contents of the stomach so that all the toxins are removed properly. After the gastric irrigation has been performed the doctor is likely to keep the patient under observation for at least a day.
Which conditions may require gastric irrigation?
Gastric irrigation is usually required when a person swallows poison. In some cases, overdose of pills may also require stomach pumping. In cases where the person has engulfed a household chemical like bleach it is important to rush them to the hospital for gastric irrigation because they are likely to affect the digestive system faster than pills.
Gastric irrigation is only helpful if it is performed in the first four hours of ingestion of the poison. After four hours, the poison is likely to make its way through to the intestines and gastric irrigation will be of no help.
There are also some other reasons for which a gastro specialist may decide to perform a stomach pumping. These reasons include requirement of, a sample of acids in the stomach, pressure from the intestines or suction of blood from the stomach in case of a hemorrhage.
The intent of this article is simply awareness and education. It does not implore self-diagnosis. If someone has ingested poison, you should immediately rush him/her to the hospital without any connotations. The doctor will then decide if the gastric irrigation is the right way to go or another treatment will suit the patient.
This article was produced in partnership with oladoc.com, a digital health company in Pakistan. Using oladoc, you can find the best Gastroenterologists in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and book an appointment online.