Endoscopy is an examination that makes it possible to see the inside of various organs in the body. It can be useful when investigating for various diseases, but is rarely the first thing we use when sick animals come to the clinic. The endoscope consists of a tube with a fiber optic cable and a light source. The light goes into the endoscope and we can look into a peephole and see what it looks like at the end of the cable. We have it all connected to a video system so we can see it all on a big screen and take pictures and movies along the way. We have two different scopes. One is rigid while the other is flexible so we can look into the rectum, ears, nose, lungs, stomach, anterior part of the small intestine, colon, vagina, bladder, joints, abdomen and chest cavity. The animals to be examined by endoscopy must always be under general anesthesia. This is to make it possible to perform the examination, to prevent the animal from becoming anxious and to protect expensive equipment from damage.
Scopy of nose
Diseases of the nose can show themselves in many ways. It can be sneezing, sniffling, snot from one or both nostrils, nosebleeds or swelling. Most often, a scopy will be part of the examination along with X-rays, culture for bacteria or fungi and cytology where we look at cells from a rinse of the nose. During the scopy we look inside the nose and we can detect inflammation, foreign bodies such as ears, grass, small twigs or tumours. The endoscope has a separate biopsy channel that allows us to take small tissue samples/biopsies for analysis. We can also remove foreign bodies with the endoscope. A common problem for cats is grass in the nose. This can present as either light sneezing or sniffling, but the cats can also become really bad with vomiting, dehydration and severely reduced general condition. Most of the time you can pick the grass out with forceps in the back of the mouth, but sometimes we have to use forceps through the biopsy channel. In the summer we have 1 to 2 cats every week with grass in their nose. The cause of the problem is most often that the cats eat grass and then vomit it up. The grass sneaks up the nose and gets stuck there.
Scopy of the airways
This is useful for tracheal disease or long-term lung disease. Long-term coughs, coughs that cannot be treated with medication, acute coughs where we suspect a debris/foreign body in the lungs, difficulty breathing or findings on chest x-rays are some of the reasons why we do this examination. The scope allows us to see the inside of the trachea and the largest bronchi. Often it is interesting to do a lavage of the airways. We then inject a small amount of water and suck it back quickly. This fluid can be sent for bacteriological examination or we can examine it under a microscope to see if inflammation is present. Tracheal collapse in small skin breeds and feline asthma are two classic diseases where endoscopy is particularly useful.
Gastric and intestinal scopy
Sometimes we see patients with suspected foreign bodies in the stomach and intestines. That's where the endoscope comes in handy. We can examine the stomach, stomach and small intestine, colon or both. Often we examine both the front and the back as these examinations require quite extensive preparation. Then it is nice to examine the "whole" tract once you get started. The animals must be fasted between 24 and 48 hours for these examinations. If we are going to examine the colon, they will also have to drink some lavage fluid according to a special recipe. We start with the oesophagus, then go into the stomach and then into the duodenum as far as the scope can reach. Then the animal is turned over and we examine the large intestine all the way up to the cecum at the junction of the small and large intestine.
Along the way, you look for abnormalities and take many biopsies. It is not uncommon to take between 25 and 30 small biopsies during this examination. These are sent for examination by a pathologist and are often just as important as the visual examination. Gulping, prolonged vomiting, bloody vomiting, diarrhoea, bloody diarrhoea, weight loss and pain on defecation are some reasons to examine with the scope, but it is important to examine the animal well in advance. Blood tests and radiographs are important in the investigation of the vast majority of patients with these problems. During the examination we can detect inflammation in the stomach, ulcers, foreign bodies in the stomach and tumours in the stomach and intestines, but it is important to take enough samples along the way so that we can get an accurate diagnosis when we start treatment. In some cases, we can also remove the foreign body using the endoscope so that the patient does not need surgery. The endoscope is a very useful tool in the assessment of some patients. Please contact us at the clinic if you think your animal should be examined or if you have any questions for us.