• Endoscopy is a procedure that allows your veterinarian to look inside your pet’s body without surgery.
  • A flexible or rigid scope with a camera attached is inserted into a body cavity to view internal organs and the interior of joints.
  • Endoscopy can be used to diagnose and treat problems.
  • General anesthesia is required.
  • Endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure.

What Is It?

Endoscopy is a procedure for looking inside your pet’s body using a flexible or rigid scope with camera and magnification capabilities. Endoscopy allows your veterinarian to see within a body cavity and examine the surface of organs, such as the liver or kidneys, or to see the structure of various joints, such as the knee.

How It Works

The endoscope is inserted through a body orifice (mouth, nose, anus) or a small incision in the abdomen, chest wall, or joint surface. The incision generally requires only a suture or two to close. The procedure is performed while your pet is under general anesthesia.

What Is It Used For?

Endoscopy provides your veterinarian with a full-color, magnified view of the area of interest. Direct visualization and biopsy can be useful in determining the cause of a problem and establishing a diagnosis. Endoscopy is also used for the following:

  • Identifying and sometimes removing foreign bodies (objects)
  • Performing minimally invasive biopsies and surgeries
  • Visualizing strictures (abnormal narrowing of a passage), lesions (tissue damage), or masses
  • Examining the interior of joints
  • Helping  to place a feeding tube

Types of Endoscopic Procedures

Endoscopy procedures are named after the organ or area they are intended to explore:

  • Gastroscopy—Evaluation of organs that make up the gastrointestinal system
  • Laparoscopy—Evaluation of organs of the abdominal cavity, including the kidneys, liver, and pancreas
  • Thoracoscopy—Evaluation of the chest, or thoracic, cavity, which includes areas around the heart and lungs
  • Rhinoscopy—Evaluation of the nasal passages and the back of the throat
  • Cytoscopy—Evaluation of the urethra, bladder, and related structures; cytoscopy is useful for diagnosing many urinary tract disorders, such as bladder stones, cancer, infection, and congenital (existing since birth) abnormalities
  • Arthroscopy—Evaluation of joints
  • Bronchoscopy—Evaluation of the windpipe and large airways inside the lungs

Benefits of Endoscopy

Endoscopy allows minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment of many problems. It can help avoid more complicated surgery and reduce the amount of pain and recovery time. Patients are often discharged from the hospital within hours of undergoing the procedure. Endoscopic images can be captured and replayed on video, allowing veterinarians to not only review evaluations but also share images with owners to explain diagnostic or therapeutic options. Certain results, such as the presence of a foreign body (due to eating a non-food item such as plastic, rocks, or clothing), are available immediately.

Foreign body (object) ingestion is a common problem in pets, particularly among puppies and kittens. The ability to identify and potentially remove foreign bodies without major surgery is a key benefit of endoscopy.