VSC performs various types of endoscopic procedures which allow our veterinarians to closely examine areas such as the gastrointestinal tract, the bladder, the nasal passages, and the respiratory tract. We also offer interventional endoscopy procedures, which can be used to treat certain conditions. During the procedure, the patient is placed under anesthesia for their comfort, while a specialized camera is passed to the area of concern. If needed, a biopsy can be taken for further evaluation.
Gastrointestinal Tract Endoscopy
Endoscopic procedures related to the gastrointestinal(GI) tract are broken down based on which portion of the GI tract they examine. They are useful in diagnosing ulcers, polyps, strictures, inflammation, masses, and other potential GI disturbances.
Esophagoscopy, gastroscopy, and duodenoscopy are all performed by entering through the patient’s mouth. An esophagoscopy allows visualization of the esophagus and can be used to diagnose conditions such as esophageal strictures, esophageal foreign bodies, esophageal masses, and esophagitis. The next portion of the GI tract is the stomach which is examined using a gastroscopy. A gastroscopy is often performed following symptoms like chronic vomiting, suspected GI bleeding, lack of appetite, or a stomach mass. Following the stomach is the first portion of the small intestine, referred to as the duodenum. To examine this area, a duodenoscopy is performed allowing the veterinarian to see the lining of the duodenum.
Other types of GI endoscopic procedures are a colonoscopy and an ileoscopy. These are performed by entering through the animal’s rectum. A colonoscopy examines the colon (large intestine) which is the primary site of fecal storage and water absorption. Symptoms which may merit a colonoscopy include bloody stool, diarrhea, or difficulty defecating. It is important to follow the preparation procedure given to you by your veterinarian to ensure your pet’s colon is clean enough for good visualization during their colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy, an ileoscopy can also be performed to examine the ileum. The ileum is the last segment of the small intestine, making an ileoscopy a helpful diagnostic tool to pair with a duodenoscopy (mentioned above). It is not always possible to perform an ileoscopy, so a diagnosis typically is not dependent on its results.
Urinary and Genital Endoscopy
A cystoscopy involves an animal’s lower urinary tract which encompases the bladder and urethra. In females, the vagina is also examined during this process (known as a vaginoscopy). This procedure can be helpful to patients with chronic urinary tract infections and can be used to visualize anatomical abnormalities, masses, urinary stones or polyps. In certain cases, an interventional endoscopy can be performed at the same time of diagnosis with a cystoscopy to remove small stones or polyps.
Respiratory Tract Endoscopy
The respiratory tract encompases the nasal passages as well as the trachea and lungs. To view an animal’s nasal passages, a rhinoscopy is performed. Symptoms which may merit a rhinoscopy include frequent sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal bleeding, and nasal congestion. During the procedure, foreign bodies can be removed and tissue biopsies can be taken.
To visualize an animal’s trachea and lungs, a tracheoscopy and bronchoscopy are performed. These two procedures are typically completed at the same time and allow exploration of the airways. Just like the other endoscopy procedures listed above, biopsies and tissue samples can be taken if needed. This type of endoscopy can be used to diagnose tracheal tumors, chronic bronchitis, tracheal collapse, feline asthma, and to remove foreign bodies.
The aforementioned endoscopy procedures are all used as diagnostic tools to discover the source of an animal’s illness. In certain cases though, they can be combined with therapeutic treatment to target the source of the problem immediately. When an endoscopy procedure is actually used to provide treatment for a condition, this is referred to as interventional endoscopy.
Interventional endoscopy can be used in conjunction with the majority of diagnostic endoscopy procedures. A few examples of these are detailed below.
Feeding Tube Placement
One example of an interventional endoscopy procedure is the placement of a PEG tube (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube). PEG tubes are a form of feeding tube placed without performing surgery on the patient. They are typically larger than other types of feeding tubes, while also allowing veterinarians to bypass the esophagus and monitor the animal’s stomach volume.
Bladder Stone / Polyp Removal
Another therapeutic procedure performed via endoscopy is the removal of bladder stones or polyps. Depending on the size of the stone or polyp, they can be removed from the patient’s bladder during a cystoscopy. This prevents unnecessary stress on the patient by eliminating the need for an invasive surgery.
Foreign Body Removal
Foreign bodies can be removed during an endoscopy procedure. While objects that make it to the colon will pass on their own, unfortunately most of the things our pets ingest get stuck in the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine. Removing the foreign body using endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure which can save you the cost of an expensive surgery and reduce the recovery time for your pet. Animals can also manage to get foreign objects stuck in their nasal cavity or trachea, which can be removed using endoscopy as well.
Balloon Dilation of Strictures
A fourth procedure that can be performed using interventional endoscopy is the balloon dilation of strictures. Strictures are abnormal narrowing of the lumen, and can be observed in the esophagus, colon, nasal cavity or urethra. By using endoscopy to guide a special balloon catheter to the site of the stricture, this condition can be treated quickly and efficiently. The balloon is inflated to breakdown the scar tissue that forms the stricture, and in some cases multiple treatments are necessary as scarring may reoccur.