We speak of gastric dilatation when we can demonstrate an enlargement of the stomach and an impairment of its motor function. It has been customary to distinguish between a dilatation of the first degree, or relative dilatation, by which we are supposed to understand a dilatation which exists only when the stomach contains food, and a dilatation of the second degree, or absolute dilatation, which remains even when the stomach is empty. This differentiation not only is of very slight practical value, but even becomes actually dangerous to the patient if it conveys to the physician the erroneous idea that a dilatation of the second degree is a sort of durable and stable condition which cannot be changed, and consequently leads either to inactivity on his part or to unnecessary surgical interference. On the contrary, the fact is—and the chief purpose of this paper is to call attention to this
FRICK A. GASTRIC DILATATION: ITS TREATMENT BY REMOVAL OF GASTRIC CONTENTS, STARVATION, AND REST IN BED. JAMA. 1913;60(24):1859–1864. doi:10.1001/jama.1913.04340240015009
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