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What is endoscopy?

Endoscopy is the use of specialized video cameras to evaluate areas within the body in a minimally invasive manner. In most instances, endoscopy is performed for diagnostic purposes, allowing visualization and sampling of abnormalities. However, endoscopy can also be used for therapeutic purposes as well, termed interventional endoscopy. Endoscopic procedures are usually performed under general anesthesia, and most patients can go home the same day as the procedure.

Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Endoscopy

Upper GI endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that can aid in the diagnostic evaluation of clinical signs related to the esophagus, stomach, and proximal small intestine. If needed, we can obtain biopsy samples as part of the diagnostic evaluation of a pet with chronic GI signs.

  • Esophagoscopy

    • This procedure involves insertion of a camera through the esophagus. It is used when dogs or cats have difficulty swallowing, regurgitation, or a foreign body in the esophagus. Many patients have x-rays and fluoroscopy (a moving x-ray) performed prior to endoscopic evaluation of the esophagus, because general anesthesia is required for esophagoscopy.

    • Another condition that requires esophagoscopy is stricture formation. This circumferential narrowing of the esophagus can occur after a foreign body has been removed or when an animal has severe gastroesophageal reflux that erodes the lining of the esophagus and results in scar formation. In this case, balloon dilation is required to open the esophagus and allow food to pass. Generally, multiple episodes of balloon dilation are required to restore normal swallowing function.
  • Gastroduodenoscopy

    • This procedure involves passage of a camera and endoscope through the esophagus into the stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). It is used to remove foreign bodies from the stomach and to obtain biopsy samples from dogs or cats with chronic vomiting, with or without diarrhea, and weight loss. It is the best tool that we have for evaluating the lining of the stomach, and it can provide information on the presence of ulcers with this technique.
    • Endoscopy revealed a fish hook in the stomach of one dog and a rubber ball in another. These foreign bodies were removed using instruments passed through the endoscope, allowing us to avoid surgery for each dog.

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