The word “endoscopy,” denotes the use of video instruments to investigate and possibly biopsy certain body cavities. It is a “noninvasive,” procedure which means no surgical incisions are required. For the patient, this means a short anesthetic period with a rapid recovery. All endoscopies in small animals require full anesthesia, and therefore requires pre-anesthetic evaluations such as blood tests, radiographs (x-rays), and an ECG. Endoscopies are usually considered among the low-risk procedures in veterinary medicine.

Endoscopic foreign body retrieval allows for quick removal of swallowed objects when they have remained in the stomach. Appropriately sized objects that can be removed with the aid of specialized tools passed through the scope may obviate the need for expensive and invasive surgical procedures.

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Gastroscopy allows the internist to closely examine an animal’s esophagus, stomach, and often the first portion of the small intestine. The health of these tissues can be assessed, biopsies harvested, and sometimes foreign objects can be retrieved. The pet is fasted at least 12 hours prior to the procedure, and is often released in the same day. Common reasons this technique is employed are weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia.

Colonoscopy allows the doctor to evaluate disease processes of the large intestine (colon), and rectum. This process is recommended for animals that have chronic diarrhea, straining to defecate, and/or blood in their stools.