What is an endoscope?
An endoscope is a medical instrument used to visually examine the internal organs and structures of dogs and cats. A long, flexible tube with a light and camera attached to one end allows the veterinarian to see real-time images of your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, or other areas of interest. It is typically inserted through either the mouth or rectum.
How can an endoscopy diagnose and treat digestive issues in pets?
The endoscope enables full-color viewing of the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine, or colon. The veterinarian can identify conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease or abnormal swelling. They can usually see and retrieve a foreign body as well, such as a bone, stick, rock, toy, coin, or hairball.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Pets with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) experience chronic gastrointestinal disorders caused by inflammation in the digestive tract. Both dogs and cats can experience symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and poor appetite.
An endoscopy can help by allowing veterinarians to see the inflamed areas and collect tissue samples for further examination. This procedure helps determine the severity of the disease and informs treatment planning, which may include dietary changes, medication, or both.
Abnormal Abdominal Swelling
Pets with abnormal abdominal swelling experience an excessive enlargement or bloating of the abdomen that is not due to normal weight gain or pregnancy. Various underlying conditions, such as fluid accumulation, organ enlargement, tumors, or intestinal blockages, can be the cause.
An endoscopy can help by allowing a veterinarian to visually examine the internal organs and tissues of the abdomen to see the cause of the swelling and make a diagnosis for appropriate treatment.
Gastrointestinal Foreign Bodies
Pets can eat things that can become lodged in their digestive tract. These can include items like toys, bones, fabric, coins, buttons, and a multitude of others. An endoscopy can help by allowing veterinarians to see and remove the foreign body without the need for invasive surgery.
In some cases, however, if the foreign body is too large or has caused severe damage, surgery may be necessary to ensure the pet's safety and well-being.
How can I prepare for my pet's endoscopy?
Talk to your veterinarian for specific instructions. Different pets may have different requirements. Your dog or cat may need to fast, for example, before the endoscopy to make sure the results are accurate.
Before the endoscopy, it’s also a good idea to discuss any medications or allergies your pet may have. These allergies can cause inflammation or irritation in the gastrointestinal tract, affecting the appearance and interpretation of endoscopic results.
Will my pet need anesthesia?
Yes, they will. Passing an endoscope into a conscious pet’s stomach or colon safely is almost impossible. Most pets only need a short-acting anesthesia and can go home shortly after we complete the procedure.
When will I know the results?
Since the organs are viewed in real-time, we should immediately know the results based on what we see. However, the study of the tissue samples and biopsies usually determines the final diagnosis. Depending on the individual circumstances, this may take up to a week.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.