Endoscopy is a non-invasive method by which to get biopsies of the GI tract. The gastrointestinal tract is five layers thick when examined under a microscope. The endoscope forceps can only biopsy the first two of these five layers. Endoscopy is limited if the disease is present in the three layers of the wall that the endoscopic forceps cannot reach.
With endoscopy there are no incisions to heal; thus, therapy can be started when results are back without waiting for incision lines to heal before starting some medications. With endoscopy there is only minor gas discomfort that passes within 8 hours and there is no pain or healing as occurs with surgery.
During endoscopy, the patient is under general anesthesia with analgesics, intravenous fluids, continuous blood pressure, EKG, and oxygenation monitoring performed by nationally and state accredited Licensed Veterinary Technicians.
Types of Endoscopy
There are several types of endoscopic studies that can be performed: gastroscopy, gastroduodenoscopy, colonoscopy, and gastroduodenoscopy-colonoscopy. The nomenclature of the scoping is based on which area of the gastrointestinal tract is being examined.
- A Gastroscopy is a scoping examination of the stomach. It is usually only a study in which there is a stomach foreign body being removed. Preparation for this study is a 12 hour fast (no food). Water is permitted until the morning of the procedure.
- A Gastroduodenoscopy is a scoping examination of the stomach, the duodenum (portion of small intestines below the stomach), and the upper small intestines. Preparation for this study is a 12 hour fast (no food); water is permitted until the morning of the procedure.
- A Colonoscopy is a scoping examination of the colon and the ileum (lower small intestine). Prior to this procedure a 12 hour fast (no food), many enemas and oral cathartics need to be given to allow maximal visualization of the colonic tissues and prevent obscurement with stool.
- A Gastroduodenoscopy-Colonoscopy is an examination of the stomach, upper small intestines, and the colon. Prior to this procedure a 12 hour fast (no food), many enemas, and oral cathartics need to be given to allow maximal visualization of the upper and lower intestinal tissues. Patients typically stay with us 1-2 days to prepare for this procedure and go home the evening of the procedure.
What is a Biopsy?
A biopsy is a term to describe the collection of tissues for review by a veterinary pathologist. A biopsy can be collected via endoscopy, rhinoscopy, cystoscopy, laparoscopy, with a tru-cut needle or a punch biopsy of the skin. Biopsies are superior to aspirates because the amount of tissue present for the pathologist to review is much larger.
Although the biopsy specimen is larger, it does not come without risks. Risks inherent with biopsy procedures are bleeding or infection. Your doctor will discuss the risks of any procedures that are recommended and every measure of care will be taken to prevent bleeding or other complications.
A biopsy can be performed on the liver, spleen, a GI mass, lymph nodes, or other structures.