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If your canine companion has been experiencing unexplained weight loss, reduced appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, your veterinarian may recommend a gastroscopy as the next diagnostic step for your dog. It can be frustrating when a physical examination, fecal analysis and blood panels reveal no significant findings, but a minimally invasive gastroscopy may shed some light on the problem, enabling your veterinarian to formulate a diagnosis and offer the best treatment plan for your dog.
What Is a Gastroscopy?
A gastroscopy is one variation of endoscopy. Endoscopy is the general term for a group of nonsurgical procedures that are used to evaluate the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract. The procedures use a scope, or tiny video camera at the end of a flexible tube, which is inserted through either the mouth or the rectum. The scope is passed through your dog’s digestive organs and the veterinarian is able to view the image of these internal structures on an ultrasound or fluoroscope monitor. A colonoscopy evaluates the lower gastrointestinal tracts, which includes the colon and rectum. A gastroscopy focuses on the esophagus, stomach and the uppermost section of the small intestines.
The Goals of Gastroscopy
Once the scope in inserted, the veterinarian gains a complete visual inspection of the esophagus as he feeds the camera through to the stomach. He observes for abnormalities in the tissues, such as scarring, growths or inflammation. If a small foreign object is found to be the culprit of your dog’s symptoms, the veterinarian may be able to retrieve it by using a grasping tool with the scope, averting the need for exploratory surgery. If growths or lesions are present, samples of the tissue are collected from the precise area with the scope’s guided biopsy tool. These samples are sent to a laboratory for pathology to rule out cancers. The ultimate goal of the gastroscopy is provide the least invasive internal diagnostic option so that your furry friend has a shorter anesthetic period, an easy and painless recovery, and a quick return home later that day.
What Does Gastroscopy Diagnose?
There are a number of reasons why your dog may be vomiting or turning away from his favorite meal. As gastroscopy can provide the key to finding out why your dog has not been feeling like himself. Visualizing and retrieving an ingested foreign body can be a simple and quick fix to get your dog back on track. A gastroscopy also can diagnose gastrointestinal conditions, such as ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease. The procedure also aids in detecting the presence of cancer. A definitive diagnosis paves the way for treatment options so that your dog can feel better, recover his lost weight and enjoy his food once again.
What You Should Expect
It is impossible to perform a gastroscopy on your dog while he is awake, no matter how well he behaves. A blood panel should be performed before the procedure to ensure that he is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia safely. Your veterinarian will request that you withhold your dog’s food from the evening before the scheduled procedure. The gastroscopy usually is a quick procedure, and your dog will be under anesthesia only for a short duration. The video feedback will provide your veterinarian with some immediate results based on his visual findings, but a complete diagnosis may take a few days if biopsy samples are sent out for pathology.