What is Gastric Biopsy?

Gastric biopsy is a procedure used to obtain tissue samples from the gastrointestinal tract. These tissue samples are generally used to diagnose, rather than treat, a gastrointestinal condition. In a gastrointestinal biopsy, tissue samples may come from the stomach, large intestine, or small intestine, or a combination of the three. A gastric biopsy focuses on the tissues of the stomach. The samples are then sent to a laboratory and analyzed by a pathologist.

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Gastric Biopsy Procedure in Dogs

There are a couple of ways that gastrointestinal biopsy can be performed. Endoscopy is usually preferred among veterinarians because it is simpler and less invasive compared to surgical biopsy. Each biopsy procedure will be discussed in detail below.

Endoscopy

  1. Your dog should not eat for twelve to twenty-four hours prior to the procedure.
  2. Your dog will first be anesthetized, placed in the correct position, and given a mouth gag to ensure the endoscope and the dog are protected throughout the procedure.
  3. If the gastric biopsy is performed as an emergency and withholding food is not an option, the vet will flush the stomach either through the endoscope tube or by performing gastric lavage.
  4. Before inserting the endoscope – a flexible tube with a specialized camera and forceps attached – the vet will test it to ensure it is functioning properly by depressing the valves.
  5. The vet will insert the tube slowly and insufflate air into the endoscope to optimize visibility.
  6. If loss of visibility occurs, the vet may withdraw the tube, clean the lens with water and gauze, and reinsert it.
  7. Biopsy forceps on the end of the endoscope will collect tissue samples.
  8. When samples have been collected, the vet will withdraw the tube.
  9. Your dog will be allowed to go home shortly following the completion of the procedure.

Surgery

  1. Your dog should not eat for twelve to twenty-four hours prior to the procedure.
  2. Your dog will first be anesthetized.
  3. The surgeon will make the initial incision and isolate the sample site(s) using moist laparotomy pads.
  4. The surgeon will then place one or more stay sutures depending on the number of samples to be taken.
  5. Another incision will be made at the site where the sample will be taken, usually on the surface of the intestine beside the stay suture.
  6. The tissue sample will be taken using a pair of surgical scissors or with a biopsy punch. The sample will include the stay suture, which will later be removed by the pathologist.
  7. The site will be closed with absorbable sutures.
  8. The procedure will be repeated at each sample site.
  9. After all samples have been taken, the surgeon will ensure no leakage has occurred from any of the biopsy sites before suturing the initial entry site.

Efficacy of Gastric Biopsy in Dogs

Gastric biopsy is incredibly effective at diagnosing gastrointestinal conditions. Pathologist analysis of tissue samples is often used to confirm disease, particularly cancer. Endoscopy in particular is useful because it enables the vet to view the overall condition of the gastrointestinal tract in real time. Tumors and other abnormalities can be identified quickly, which means treatment can start immediately. On the other hand, surgical biopsy has its own advantages. Endoscopy is incapable of identifying diseases that affect the deeper layers of the gastrointestinal tract, because it only collects tissue samples from the very first layer, the mucosa.

Gastric Biopsy Recovery in Dogs

Endoscopy

Recovering from endoscopy is fairly straightforward for dogs that are in a stable condition. You’ll need to keep an eye on your dog for a few days following the procedure. Your vet will advise you on specific dietary restrictions – on average, your dog should only eat and drink a small amount for the first twelve hours following the procedure.

Surgical

Your dog may be hospitalized following the procedure if its condition its considered unstable. Intravenous fluid therapy may be required in animals that are not eating or drinking. Pain medication is also prescribed to manage postoperative pain. Your dog should rest and not engage in excessive activity following the procedure. Consult your vet if you notice any swelling or discharge from the surgery site.

Cost of Gastric Biopsy in Dogs

The cost of a gastric biopsy will vary based on the type of procedure and any additional costs incurred. On average, gastric biopsy range from $1,000 to $1,800.

Dog Gastric Biopsy Considerations

Endoscopy is usually the preferred gastric biopsy procedure because it is less stressful for the dog and recovery is easier. Endoscopy also provides veterinarians with more tissue samples in less time than surgical biopsy. However, surgical biopsy can provide veterinary surgeons with better access to areas such as the ileum, which endoscopy is rarely capable of reaching. Endoscopy can only reach a small portion of the small intestine, which means that diseases that affect inaccessible parts of the small intestine may not be detected by endoscopy. The type of biopsy procedure required will vary based on the suspected underlying disease or symptoms.

Gastric Biopsy Prevention in Dogs

Prevent your dog from eating or swallowing any foreign objects. Always feed your dog a complete, commercial diet to prevent the risk of gastrointestinal disorders and cancer.