Gastric lavage, also commonly called stomach pumping or gastric irrigation, is the process of cleaning out the contents of the stomach. It has been used for over 200 years as a means of eliminating poisons from the stomach. Such devices are normally used on a person who has ingested a poison or overdosed on a drug such as alcohol. They may also be used before surgery, to clear the contents of the digestive tract before it is opened.
Apart from toxicology, gastric lavage (or nasogastric lavage) is sometimes used to confirm levels of bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract. It may play a role in the evaluation of hematemesis. It can also be used as a cooling technique for hyperthermic patients.
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