What is gastric suction?
Gastric suction, or stomach pumping, is a procedure your
doctor can perform to empty the contents of your stomach quickly during an
emergency. It’s also known as gastric lavage and nasogastric tube suction.
is gastric suction used?
Your doctor may order gastric suction if you’ve swallowed poison or
overdosed on pills. If you’ve swallowed something poisonous, such as a
household chemical, get to the hospital as soon as possible. Gastric suction is
most successful if it’s performed within four hours of ingesting a poisonous
substance. Once the poison works its way further into your digestive tract, performing
this procedure won’t remove it.
Your doctor may also order gastric suction after certain surgeries on your
abdominal area, such as a gastrectomy.
This procedure involves the partial or total removal of your stomach.
Gastric suction can help keep your stomach empty while you heal. In this case,
you won’t be eating solid foods, so only thin liquids will enter your stomach.
A low level of suction will be used to remove the fluids.
Your doctor may also use gastric suction to:
- collect a sample of your stomach acid
- relieve pressure on your intestines if they’re blocked
- suction out blood if you’ve had a stomach hemorrhage
- clean out your stomach if you’re vomiting blood during
an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy, which is a procedure in which
your doctor inserts a scope down your esophagus to examine your upper GI
- to safely perform surgery and limit the risk of
- to decompress the stomach during assisted ventilation
in a hospital setting
How do you prepare for gastric suction?
If you’re undergoing gastric suction because of poisoning, drug overdose, or
other emergency situations, you won’t have time to prepare for it beforehand. But
if your doctor orders gastric suction to collect a sample of your stomach acid
for testing, they may ask you to fast or avoid taking certain medications
before the procedure.
is gastric suction performed?
Before the procedure, your doctor may give you medicine to numb your throat.
This will help decrease gagging and irritation. Then, they’ll insert a lubricated
tube into your mouth or nose and thread it down through your esophagus
into your stomach. Your esophagus is the tube that connects your mouth to your
Your doctor may spray water or saline solution down the tube before applying
suction. Saline solution can help protect you against electrolyte imbalances
that can occur when your doctor removes fluids from your stomach. They’ll then apply
suction to remove your stomach contents.
If you have the tube inserted while you’re recovering from abdominal
surgery, your doctor will likely leave it in while you heal. A nurse will
probably irrigate the tube regularly with saline solution. This helps to keep
the tube open and prevent blockages.
are the risks of gastric suction?
This procedure can be uncomfortable. You may feel like gagging while they insert
the tube. Afterward, your throat may feel irritated.
This procedure also poses more serious risks. One of the most common is aspiration
pneumonia. This happens when some of your stomach contents enter into your
lungs or airways. Untreated aspiration pneumonia can potentially lead to lung
swelling, lung abscesses, or bacterial pneumonia. The symptoms of aspiration
- chest pain
- coughing up phlegm
- a bluish tint to your skin
- a fever
This risk occurs if the tube becomes dislodged. Having gastric suction can protect
you from aspiration pneumonia by emptying the stomach before contents can get
into the respiratory tract.
Other risks of gastric suction include:
- spasms of your vocal cords, which temporarily prevent
- the tube entering your airway instead of your esophagus
- the tube poking a hole in your esophagus
- stomach contents getting pushed further into your
- minor bleeding
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about this procedure. They
can help you understand the potential benefits and risks.