Thursday, October 9, 2014

Today's Word: gavage

When I stumbled across this word today, it was in the phrase "orally gavaged," which sounded so horribly close to both "orally savaged" and "orally ravaged" that I cringed. Then I found out what the word meant, and discovered I wasn't too far off. Perhaps I was right to cringe.

gavage: To force feed nutirents or other material directly into the stomach through a tube.

The word itself sounds like an onomatapoeia naming the sound a conscious person might make while having a tube shoved down his throat and into his stomach.

The concept sounds horrible (I involuntarily swallow whenever I think of it), but it does have some medical utility, both in practice and in research. The obvious use is feeding comatose patients.

I found the word in the world of poultry, though, while reading the most enjoyable literature* about antibiotic testing. so engrossed in involved a number of turkeys who were first "orally gavaged" with mixture of nasty little buggers with names like Eimeria acervulina. After a few days, they were then given the antibiotic.
One cannot test the efficacy of an antibiotic on an animal that hasn't been violated by the microbes the antibiotic is meant to obliterate. So the experimental results I was

In short, they were force-fed the disease in order to be given the cure. Which seems a rather nice metaphor for American consumerism, I think.

* This is the my sarcastic font for the day.