What is an Endoscopy?
Endoscopy is defined as the examination of the interior of a canal or internal organ (see list of types of endoscopy procedures below). The endoscope is an instrument used to perform this examination. Endoscopes can be either flexible or rigid. Flexible endoscopes are often used to examine the stomach, upper small intestine, colon, trachea, and major airways of the lungs. Rigid scopes are typically used to examine the urethra, bladder, abdominal cavity, thoracic cavity, nasal passages and ear canals. Although endoscopy requires general anesthesia, it is generally a safe, non-surgical procedure often performed on an outpatient basis. Endoscopy is an excellent diagnostic tool because it allows for direct inspection of the organ system being examined and the ability to collect samples for culture, biopsy, or fluid analysis. Additionally, endoscopy allows for the non-surgical removal of foreign matter in the stomach, trachea, lungs, nasal passages, or throat.
Types of Endoscopy:
What Should I Do if My Veterinarian Recommends an Endoscopy for My Pet?
If your veterinarian has recommended that an endoscopic procedure may be indicated for your pet, he/she will refer you to an internal medicine specialist. At that time a complete review of your pet's medical records and a complete physical examination of your pet should be performed. In some cases further diagnostic tests may be recommended before proceeding with an endoscopic procedure. Although not all endoscopic procedures can be performed the same day that your consultation takes place, if might bf best if you avoid feeding your pet on the morning of your appointment on the chance that the procedure can be performed the same day.
How Should I Prepare My Pet for the Procedure?
It is very important that a thorough physical examination of your pet and a complete review of your pet's records and medical history are performed before proceeding with any endoscopic procedure. This insures that endoscopy is needed and that you understand the basics of the procedure. Most endoscopic procedures require little patient preparation outside of withholding food for 12 hours. Colonoscopy requires bowel preparation to insure a successful study. Withholding food for 48 hours is ideal. Your veterinary specialist may give your pet a lavage solution to help remove fecal material prior to the procedure. Your vet may also recommend warm water enemas to help cleanse the bowel.
Is Anesthesia Used During the Procedure?
Yes, anesthesia is required for endoscopic procedures. Most veterinary specialists will place an IV catheter and administer IV fluids. In most cases, an assigned technician, trained in anesthesia, will continuously monitor the patient's anesthetic level, heart rate, EKG, oxygen level and blood pressure. Post-procedure recovery is usually performed in an intensive care unit (ICU) with continued monitoring of your pet by trained technicians. Ask your veterinary specialist about his/her anesthesia and recovery procedures during your initial consultation.
What Happens After an Endoscopy?
A complete discussion of the findings should be provided to you about your pet at the time of discharge. In some cases, additional "go-home" medications may be prescribed. Test results usually return in 3 to 4 days. A complete description of the results and additional medical recommendations should be provided. Your veterinary specialist should forward a copy of all test results and a detailed letter outlining findings and medical recommendations to your regular veterinarian for your pet's permanent record.
How Much Does an Endoscopy Cost?
The total cost for an endoscopic procedure will vary depending on the type of procedure performed, and whether additional diagnostic tests are required prior to the procedure. Ask your veterinary specialist for a complete itemized estimate during your initial consultation.
What Are the Limitations of Endoscopy?
Endoscopy will not allow visual inspection of the entire intestinal tract due to the limited length of the endoscope. Biopsy samples are small and can only be taken from the surface of the tissue; therefore, a diagnosis could be missed if the problem is "deep" within the lining of the intestine. Operator experience and skill play a significant role in the ability to obtain the best information. Ask your veterinary specialist how many procedures he/she has performed. Although endoscopy requires general anesthesia, it is generally a safe, non-surgical procedure often performed on an outpatient basis.