Unfortunately, ulcers are a common issue in horses. It doesn't help that items can get lodged in your horse's gastrointestinal (GI) tract or that cancer of the stomach is possible. Dr. Jud Easterwood encourages families to look for any signs of an issue so we can promptly perform equine gastroscopy and your horse can receive the care he or she needs quickly.
General Information About Equine Gastroscopy
Gastroscopy is a procedure where Dr. Easterwood inserts a 10-foot-long, one-centimeter-in-diameter tube with a small camera on the end of it. Our practitioner pushes the endoscope through your horse's nose and into the stomach.
Once the tube is in your horse's nose, Dr. Easterwood inserts it into the back of your horse's throat. Then, he or she swallows the tube and it goes through the esophagus and into the stomach. The camera is used to capture images of the inside of your horse's upper GI tract.
Fasting for Gastroscopy
Dr. Easterwood will discuss with you what you need to do for your horse prior to his or her procedure. For instance, your horse will need to fast for 12 hours before having gastroscopy. He or she may not have any food during this time but can still have water. Depending on when your appointment is, this may mean your horse gets to have dinner like normal and still eat meals the following day, just on a slightly altered schedule.
Once our vet finishes the procedure, you may feed him or her in about 30 minutes to an hour afterward.
How Your Horse Feels During Gastroscopy
The procedure isn't painful for your horse. He or she receives a mild sedative to ease the discomfort. As a result, the insertion of the tube only feels like a tickling sensation. Your horse receives an anesthetic in his or her nose to minimize discomfort as well.
What Gastroscopy Can Diagnose
Gastroscopy is a procedure our vet uses to diagnose ulcers because it's the only way to accurately diagnose an ulcer and determine the type. Two main types of ulcers exist, and testing for them through stool samples isn't as accurate.
Additionally, Dr. Easterwood can use it to diagnose impactions, tumors, and other upper GI tract problems.
Treating Issues After Gastroscopy
After our practitioner confirms any issue, your horse will receive treatment. If your horse has an obstruction, he or she will need either medication or surgery.
For ulcers, the standard treatment is medication or a combination of medications. Some examples include omeprazole and misoprostol. Omeprazole, sold under the brand name Prilosec for humans, is a protein pump inhibitor. It reduces the amount of acid your horse's stomach produces. Misoprostol is a treatment that can treat stomach ulcers. Sometimes, your horse receives an antibiotic.
Dr. Easterwood will educate you about the ideal diet to help manage the acid in your horse's stomach. Usually, this is a high-fiber diet. In addition, you receive information about a proper feeding and exercise schedule that can assist.
If cancer is suspected, we will recommend additional testing and will help you determine the best course of action for his or her needs.
If your horse is having pain or he or she isn't eating right, we encourage you to contact our office. Our highly skilled vet will come to your location and perform gastroscopy as needed. We can help your horse get back to feeling like his or herself.
To learn more about a gastroscopy procedure for your horse, or to schedule an appointment, contact Easterwood Equine Hospital today at (205) 663-4000.