Veterinary Endoscopy Services
What Is Endoscopy?
Endoscopy is using an endoscope to examine a particular area. An endoscope can be flexible or rigid and is used to view organs when the area of interest has limited access through traditional approaches and would otherwise require surgery. Endoscopes can range from a few inches in length to greater than one meter. Named for the area in which they are intended to examine, specialized endoscopes include:
- Bronchoscope—Bronchi and trachea
- Gastrointestinal endoscope—Colon, stomach and intestines
Endoscopy is usually performed only by board-certified internists in specialty veterinary hospitals such as BSVES because of the training required for proper use and because of the expense of purchasing these instruments. Specialists in internal medicine are trained both to use endoscopes and to interpret the results so that a treatment plan can be developed for the patient. For this reason, many pets are referred to BSVES and our sister hospital OSVS.
General anesthesia is required for all endoscopic procedures so an abdominal ultrasound or chest X-rays and blood work are often performed to ensure the patient is healthy enough for anesthesia and to ensure that endoscopy is the best diagnostic tool for the patient’s circumstance.
In cases of intestinal disease, where symptoms including weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea are present, and a diagnosis has not been determined after use of other diagnostic tests, endoscopy is often our tool of choice. Passing the gastrointestinal endoscope through the mouth and into the digestive tract, we are able to visualize the innermost layer of the intestines, stomach, and esophagus.
We can also take biopsies or samples of the innermost layer for microscopic evaluation. With this type of endoscopic evaluation, we can often see conditions other imaging modalities could not locate, including inflammation, tumors, and ulcers. We capture real-time images of the evaluation as we attach the scope to a television screen. The patient’s medical record can then be supplemented with these photos.
View a gallery of images from a few select cases.
Endoscopy is also used in emergencies for the removal of foreign objects pets have ingested. Sewing needles, marrow bones, pennies, socks, fish hooks, jewelry, and even rocks have been removed from cat and dog stomachs! Endoscopic removal of foreign bodies can only be effectively performed if the object is in the pet’s stomach, which we can usually determine by taking an X-ray. Once the object moves into the pet’s intestines, surgery becomes the best option. Removing potentially dangerous foreign objects using the endoscope is a less invasive and less expensive treatment option that allows our patients to go home typically within hours of the procedure.