Atlas of pathology
Where: digestive system, stomach
Differential diagnosis: Torsion of the stomach and the intestinesOther
This dilated gas-filled stomach in a dead breeder pig is typical of gastric dilation. The affected breeder pigs usually die suddenly, in good body condition, with the abdomen hugely distended like an enormous balloon. When the abdomen is carefully opened, the distension is found to be due to massive dilation of the stomach of the pig, filled largely with smelly gas, but also with partly digested feed and watery fluid contents. In some pigs, the stomach may also be partly twisted, allowing the spleen to be readily viewed lying on top of the stomach. The lungs of the pigs are very dark and congested. In most feeding situations, food is not fermented in the stomach and any ingested gas may be regurgitated. This dramatic gastric dilation may occur when pigs are shifted onto low-fibre diets, particularly when the breeder pigs are fed once a day and do not exercise. In this situation, sows may rapidly eat a large amount of soft food, mixed with air, which ferments in the stomach, producing large amounts of gas. This excessive gas cannot be released, resulting in the massive stomach dilation. The huge dilation leads to pressure on the blood vessels, lungs and heart of the pig, causing failure of blood flow and death.