When a person or animal is unwell, external symptoms and blood test results may only tell part of the story. Advances in medical technology mean that it is now possible to see what is actually happening inside the body. One of the procedures that is being used in humans as well as animals, including horses, is called an endoscopy.
An endoscopy can be used to view and analyze many parts of a horse including the upper respiratory tract as well as parts of the gastrointestinal, reproductive and urinary tracts in order to help veterinarians make accurate diagnoses and recommendations for treatment on a wide range of health problems.
There are two main types of endoscopies available in the equine veterinary field. They are:
This is the most common type of endoscope used for investigative surgery in horses. The endoscope is made up of a bunch of optical fibers that are enclosed within a waterproof rubber tube. The tube is passed into the horse’s body either through a natural body cavity or through a surgical incision. The area is illuminated by a light source that passes through the fiber optics and then examined using an eyepiece that is attached to the external end of the fiber-optic cable.
This more advanced version of the endoscope has a tiny microchip video camera on the end of the scope which relays live feedback to a television screen in the room. This means that multiple people can view the feed, and it can be recorded and played back at a later time.