Endoscopy is a powerful diagnostic tool when trying to determine the cause of some clinical symptoms, such as vomiting and/or diarrhea. An endoscopy provides a full color, inside view of the esophagus, stomach, upper portion of the small intestine, and the colon, where areas of inflammation, ulceration, or lesions can be seen. Importantly, masses and structures will be visible, as will foreign bodies such as bones, toys, rocks, coins, hairballs, and others.
Prior to the Endoscopic procedure, your pet’s complete digestive system will need to be cleared of food and/or fecal matter through a combination of fasting and medications. The staff at Wooster Animal Clinic will walk you through these details when scheduling the procedure.
After your pet is anesthetized, the endoscope (a flexible tube w/ specialized video camera) is carefully inserted into either the stomach (via the mouth) or the colon (via the rectum). On its way to the stomach, the endoscope will pass through and provide a thorough inspection of the esophagus followed by the stomach. Depending on the size of the pet, the endoscopy may pass through the small valve (the pylorus) at the lower end of the stomach and offer a view of a short segment of the small intestine (the upper duodenum). Unfortunately, only a limited portion of the small intestine is accessible via endoscopy and other testing is required for diseases of this area.
As many diseases cause changes that can only be detected at the cellular level, a visual inspection offered by endoscopy sometimes cannot fully diagnose the cause of the symptoms presented by your pet. In such cases, a stomach tissue biopsy from a vomiting pet may be obtained during the endoscopy by passing the biopsy instrument through a small tube within the endoscope. Likewise, a colon tissue biopsy from a pet with diarrhea may be taken. Please note that while the endoscopy provides real time viewing of the organs, complete diagnosis may not be available until the pathologist’s study of the biopsies are reported.
Endoscopies are not limited to the Gastrointestinal tract (GI). In addition to the Upper GI (esophagus, stomach & small intestine) and Lower GI (colon), endoscopies are also performed on the Respiratory, Urinary, and Genital tracts as well as laparoscopically (through the abdomen).