An endoscope is a tube of lenses that carries an image from inside the animal’s body to the doctor’s eye or a television monitor. Endoscopy allows a veterinarian to visualize internal organs, joints, and the inner lining of the stomach and intestines. Surgical exploration, biopsy, and repair can be performed with the aid of an endoscope. It reduces the need to make large incisions to accommodate the surgeon’s hands. Instead, tiny forceps and other surgical instruments are guided by the scope, reducing the risk of complications and speeding healing times.
There are many sizes and varieties of endoscopes, but there are two basic types: flexible and rigid. Which one the surgeon uses is a matter of preference and depends on the surgery.
The kinds of procedures that may be performed using an endoscope are numerous. A biopsy of the stomach wall or colon is obtainable without the need for a laparotomy, or opening of the abdominal cavity. A very small incision through the abdominal wall however, will allow a surgeon using a scope to biopsy the liver and other organs easily. A smaller incision means less chance of introducing infection. Arthroscopy is a surgical method of using a very small scope to visualize the inside of the joints. Exploration of the thorax is possible without artificial respiration.
Ultimately, the endoscope is a remarkable advancement in surgical technique. It reduces the size of incisions, minimizing bleeding and risk of infection. It speeds healing times greatly, allowing pets to return to normal activity much more quickly than after conventional surgery. The use of an endoscope also reduces pain associated with surgery since less trauma is caused to body tissues during the procedures. There are situations where the use of an endoscope is not ideal, but usually the endoscope offers superior results to the scalpel.