What is Endoscopy?
Endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that involves examining the inside of an animal using an endoscope, an instrument fitted with a camera. There are two types of endoscope: rigid and flexible. A rigid endoscope is used to examine smaller organs, like the ears, nose and throat. A flexible endoscope is used to examine the gastrointestinal tract. Some endoscopes can be fitted with forceps which are used to retrieve tissue samples from the area examined. It should be noted that endoscopy can provide a preliminary diagnosis, which is then confirmed by biopsy and additional testing.
When most people think of endoscopy, they think of gastrointestinal endoscopy. However, there are many types of endoscopy. Almost any part of an animal’s body can be examined using endoscopy, including the nose, ears, mouth, joints, pharynx and larynx, trachea, gastrointestinal tract, and rectum. Endoscopy is also useful in diagnosing conditions affecting the vagina, urethra, and bladder of female cats. Endoscopy cannot be used for diagnosing urinary conditions in male cats.
Endoscopy Procedure in Cats
The exact procedure steps for endoscopy will vary based on the location being examined. The general procedure steps for endoscopy are outlined below.
- The cat must be fasted prior to endoscopy according to the veterinarian’s instructions.
- Local or general short-acting anesthesia is usually required for endoscopy, so the cat will be evaluated for anesthetization prior to the procedure.
- The cat will be anesthetized and the endoscope will be inserted into the appropriate orifice.
- The veterinarian will be able to view the cat internally in real time on the screen and make a preliminary diagnosis.
- Tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.
Efficacy of Endoscopy in Cats
Endoscopy is typically effective in providing preliminary diagnoses. It is less invasive than exploratory surgery and is therefore safer for the cat. Endoscopy usually cannot diagnose conditions that affect the deeper linings of the stomach and gastrointestinal tract because these regions do not appear in endoscopic imaging. Cats may not be given a definitive diagnosis the same day, since biopsy and other tests are almost always required to confirm the preliminary diagnosis.
Endoscopy Recovery in Cats
Cats will usually be allowed to go home the same day after they have recovered from the effects of anesthesia. Those with severe or life-threatening illnesses may be hospitalized for treatment. Recovery is not usually necessary since this procedure is diagnostic and considered minimally invasive. Cats that have undergone gastrointestinal endoscopy may cough occasionally for up to two days following the procedure. This is normal. Follow-up appointments may be scheduled as needed to administer treatments and review test results.
Cost of Endoscopy in Cats
The cost of endoscopy will vary based on the body part or organ requiring examination. The cost of endoscopy, including testing and anesthesia, may range from $800 to $2,200.
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Cat Endoscopy Considerations
Endoscopy is a safe, routine procedure, and generally presents few risks. The main risk associated with endoscopy is allergic reaction to the anesthetic. Anesthetic death is extremely rare in cases of endoscopy, especially since the anesthesia is usually short-acting. It should be noted that endoscopy may not provide a definitive diagnosis. However, it is incredibly useful for visualizing diseased organs and foreign bodies.
In cats undergoing endoscopy of the rectum or colon, oral medications will be required prior to the procedure. These will empty these cavities of all contents and prevent new contents from forming. Owners should inform their veterinarians of any medications the cat is currently taking to prevent reaction. An enema may also be required, which will be administered by the vet.
Endoscopy Prevention in Cats
It may be difficult for owners to prevent certain conditions that warrant endoscopy, including tumors, congenital conditions, and idiopathic diseases. Engaging in activities that may result in traumatic injury and the ingestion of foreign bodies, which is a common reason why endoscopy is needed, should be prevented.