Endoscopy is a minimally invasive technique that allows a visual examination of internal organs and body parts without surgery. In many cases performing a procedure endoscopically allows for it to be done as an outpatient procedure, a less painful and traumatic alternative for both patient and owner.
Endoscopy is performed with either a rigid or flexible fiber optic instrument. Flexible endoscopes such as those used in the examination of the stomach consist of a long flexible tube with a bending tip at the end that enters the body. A camera is at the tip that allows visualization through an eyepiece and a control hand piece. Channels are present within the endoscope that permit various endoscopic tools to be passed and fluids to be suctioned, samples taken, or foreign objects to be removed. Special video cameras can be attached to the endoscopes which allow viewing of the exam on a television screen, as well as recording the exam on video. The rigid endoscope can be used in some areas that do not require the bending tip.
Types of endoscopy include:
Gastroscopy, upper GI endoscopy:an exam of the esophagus, stomach, and upper intestines. Candidates for endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract include those with a narrowing or foreign body in the esophagus, those with symptoms of chronic gastrointestinal disease (such as inappetance, vomiting with or without blood, melena (blood in the stool), diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, or patients with other suspected upper GI disease. The technique allows for visualization of the lining of the digestive system and for taking samples of the lining of these organs for further diagnostics, including biopsies. Many foreign bodies in the esophagus and stomach may be removed via endoscopy.
Colonoscopy:an exam of the transverse colon, ascending colon, cecum, large bowel, and rectum. Colonoscopy is useful to diagnose many large bowel diseases or generalized intestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease or diffuse intestinal lymphosarcoma.
Bronchoscopy:an exam of the lower airways, including the larynx, trachea, and bronchi. The procedure is used to examine the mucosal surface of the airways for abnormalities that might be associated with a variety of lung and airway diseases. Its uses include the visualization of airway obstructions or tumors, and the collection of specimens for the diagnosis of inflammatory diseases, cancer, or infectious diseases.
Cystoscopy:an examination of the vagina, urethral opening, urethra, bladder, and ureteral openings. This allows us to clearly look for any abnormalities (stones, tumors, and other diseases) of the urinary tract and establish a diagnosis.
Rhinoscopy:an exam of the nasal cavity and nasopharynx (junction between the nasal area and the back of the throat). Common indications for rhiniscopy include chronic nasal discharge, bleeding from the nose (epistaxis), sneezing, difficulty breathing through the nose or deformity of the nasal cavity. Through rhinoscopy we are able to visualize the entire nasal passageway under magnification, remove foreign objects such as grass awns and obtain biopsy samples of abnormal tissue.
Otoscopy:an examination of the ear canal. Often used to perform a myringotomy (incision of the ear drum) to allow sampling and treatment of the inner ear structures.
The advantage of endoscopy over other methods is that it is nonsurgical. Endoscopy should be preceded by adequate laboratory testing and radiology. Sedation or anesthesia is used to eliminate any pain and to keep the animal from moving.