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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.

  1. The cat must be fasted prior to endoscopy according to the veterinarian’s instructions.
  2. Local or general short-acting anesthesia is usually required for endoscopy, so the cat will be evaluated for anesthetization prior to the procedure.
  3. The cat will be anesthetized and the endoscope will be inserted into the appropriate orifice.
  4. The veterinarian will be able to view the cat internally in real time on the screen and make a preliminary diagnosis.
  5. Tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Endoscopy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Sophie

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Domestic Long Haired

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10 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Lethargy
Vomiting
Appetite Loss

My cat had a period of vomiting, diarrhea, and appetite loss. Tests suggested IBD, but I could not afford the endoscopy to confirm. We opted to treat with steroids under the assumption it was IBD. All was well until recently when we tried lowering her steroid dose. After 2-3 weeks she stopped drinking (during heat wave), then vomiting and diarrhea. Now an endoscopy is being recommended again, but I'm concerned steroids will mask finding. Hey vet thinks she's so symptomatic that we have a good chance of finding something. Thoughts?

July 21, 2018

Sophie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

If Sophie is vomiting and having diarrhea on the lower dosage of steroids, I would think there is a good chance of finding evidence of IBD if it is there. Sometimes with testing, we have to do it to see if we can identify the problem, as without the test, we don't know. If your veterinarian feels that the endoscopy is a good idea, and you trust them, it seems a good idea to have that done.

July 22, 2018

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Hampton

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Unknown

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty

Dear Vet, my cat started showing sings of extreme breathing difficulties coupled with "honking" sounds. He gets these attacks about 2-3 hours apart. he has been on steroid inhalers and antibiotics. the vet suggests that the next option may be an endoscope. My question is will the endoscopy be purely for diagnosis? What is the most likely cause of the "honking" sounds? Thank you Tessio

March 1, 2018

Hampton's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Honking sounds by themselves are not a big concern, but when coupled with breathing difficulties there could be issues with the trachea (like tracheal collapse - rare in cats but more common in toy breed dogs) or other issues (infections, foreign objects, masses etc…). The endoscopy would be purely diagnostic to check for any abnormalities in the airway (x-ray could be done first to look for any large issues), if your Veterinarian finds something which can be easily solved with the working channel of the endoscope then that may be done but in most cases the endoscopy would give a better idea of the underlying issue. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/collapse-windpipe

March 1, 2018

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Roxie

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Maine Coon

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5 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss, Lack Of Appeitite
Weight Loss, Lack Of Appetite,

Hi, my cat was determinded to have anxiety. It got really bad right before we put our sick dog down. Roxie was put on prednisolone for her excessive pooping diarrhea. It has helped with the diarrhea it is now hard poop. But recently past 2 weeks she has lost so much weight. Its scary

Feb. 5, 2018

Roxie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. I'm not sure what diagnostic tests were done to determine that Roxie had anxiety, but dramatic weight loss isn't necessarily expected with that condition. If she is still having weight loss and lack of appetite, it would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian, as she may need lab work or x-rays to determine what is going on with her. I hope that she is okay!

Feb. 5, 2018

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Peanut

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tabby

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11 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Cat Lost 2 Pounds In 5 Months

I brought him to vet to see why he turned his head and chewed like his mouth bothered him it didnt stop his eating. They pulled two teeth. His co dition stayed the same and now he lost 2 pounds I. 5 months. I'm terrified he may have cancer. He eats, poops, pees normally and doesnt vomit

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Luna

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tabby

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4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Gurgling Sneezing Wheez

My cat had a nasal scope on Tuesday, the vet was checking for polyps because her left nostril was slightly blocked and she was sneezing a lot. Nothing was found, he sent me home with an antibiotic called Azithromycin Oral Suspension. 0.1ml. a day x 7 days. Long story short my cat is worse her breathing is labored, she has a snotty nose and gurgles when she breathes. She sounds like “a pig in a trough” when she eats, drinks and grooms. I don’t know if she is having an allergic reaction to the meds. I’m afraid to give her the 4th dose, it’s a day after Thanksgiving and my vet is closed. I am really freaking out...help please.

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Ali

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short hair

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2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Watry Eye

Hi my cat has been sneezing and now she has a watery eyes she was even sneezing blood at one point. Antibiotics seem to help but symptoms come back. They did swab nothing came back viral. They want to do x-ray or endoscopy? Any suggestions?

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Meek

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Cat

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13 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Mucous, Congestion, Sneezing

My cat has had weezing, congestion and sneezing mucous. I took to the vet and she was prescribed antibiotics. The medication improved the symptoms but they did not resolve. No other testing has been done and the vet wants to send the cat to be scoped to see if there is a blockage. Is this the next step?

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