Complications

Large gastric aspirates are not a benign problem. Complications include impaired nutrition, nausea, vomiting, pulmonary aspiration of gastric contents, loss of water and electrolytes, and acute gastric dilatation.

Acute gastric dilatation may complicate any condition associated with acute gastric retention. When it is severe, there is upper abdominal distension, hiccoughs are common, and patients who are not deeply sedated or unconscious usually have obvious discomfort and tachycardia. Copious vomiting or regurgitation is usually a late manifestation. The first indication of acute gastric dilatation in the critically ill is often a hugely distended stomach seen on a chest radiograph taken for other reasons.

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