Reasons to Get Your Stomach Pumped
doctors reviewing X-rays

You probably think stomach pumping is just used for poisonings or overdoses, but there are several reasons why doctors might perform the procedure.

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Stomach pumping, gastric irrigation, gastric suction, gastric lavage -- the procedure goes by several names, but it all does the same thing: gets whatever is in your stomach out.

Despite the name, when you get your stomach pumped, you're not really having anything "pumped" out of your stomach. Instead, the procedure is more like a washing or irrigating process that rinses out the contents of the stomach using water or another solution like saline [source: Jacoby].

Gastric lavage works by inserting a flexible tube through either the nose or the mouth, down the esophagus and into the stomach. A liquid is pumped into the stomach through the tube, and then is removed by suction or siphoning, taking out the contents of the stomach along with the liquid [source: Eisner]. The process is repeated until whatever needs to be removed comes out.

We most often hear about stomach pumping being used when someone is poisoned or overdoses on medication, but there are actually a bunch of reasons doctors would want to clean out your stomach. Here we'll explore five reasons doctors might want to get the contents of your insides on the outside.