VCA Aurora Animal Hospital

Endoscopy foreign body removal (esophageal, airway, gastric)

Unfortunately, dogs will commonly ingest foreign bodies which can become lodged in the airway, esophagus, or stomach. Some of these foreign bodies may pass and become stuck in the small intestines as well. This can be life-threatening.

Airway foreign bodies:

Uncommonly, dogs can inhale foreign bodies that may become stuck in their nose or lungs. Nasal foreign bodies can be difficult to diagnose. Rhinoscopy (evaluation of the nasal cavity with a camera) can be used. It is especially important to look at the back of the nasal cavity (called nasopharyngeal area). Cats can also vomit hairballs or other objects that may become lodged in this area. Additionally, foreign bodies can be inhaled and go directly to the lungs. The most common culprit is grass awns. These foreign bodies are most likely successfully removed when diagnosed early on. Over time, excessive mucus secretion will "hide" foreign objects in the airways. At this point, these foreign objects are only able to be removed via thoracic surgery after being identified via CT scan. Occasionally, dogs and cats can inhale foreign objects into their lungs and develop significant respiratory distress. These cases are considered emergencies and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Esophageal foreign bodies:

Esophageal foreign bodies are considered an emergency because the foreign body will cause significant damage to the esophagus over time. Very serious damage can occur within hours depending on the foreign body composition, its size, size of patient, and location lodged.
Side-effects of esophageal foreign bodies include severe esophagitis, perforation of the esophagus and development of esophageal strictures in the future.
Esophageal strictures lead to the inability to eat because food often times does not pass through the stricture site. Decreased appetite and regurgitation as well as retching and excessive salivation are common clinical signs. Treatment of this complication is esophageal stricture ballooning, which is laborious and often times unsuccessful. Surgery is recommended in cases where the foreign body is not able to be removed endoscopically. This is considered the last resort because thoracic surgery is necessary and subsequent esophageal stricture is common.

Gastric foreign bodies:

Removal of gastric foreign bodies is not as urgent as esophageal foreign bodies. However, gastric foreign bodies can cause significant damage to the stomach lining, systemic illness such as breakdown of red blood cells (penny ingestion) or toxin absorption, as well as obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. Abdominal surgery is required once the intestines become obstructed.


Emergency/Critical Care, Internal Medicine

General Practice

We have over 600 animal hospitals in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces that are staffed by more than 3,000 fully-qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 400 being board-certified specialists.

The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments such as wellness, spay/neuter, advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, boarding, and grooming. Services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

Find a VCA General Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately or simply come right over.  We are open 24 hours/day 7 days per week - 365 days a year.  Call ahead if you will need assistance in getting your pet into our facility.