Endoscopy [en-dosu00b4kah-pe] is the visual examination of interior structures of the body through the use of a special instrument, typically having a fiberoptic lens and a light source, called an endoscope. This type of an examination allows a doctor to diagnose illnesses, perform biopsies, explore injuries or other damage, and in some cases even treat some conditions without the need for more invasive surgical procedures. There are numerous benefits to this type of exploration or treatment, such as reduced recovery times, smaller incisions leading to less bleeding and therefore the necessity for transfusion is reduced, a reduction in scarring, and less pain from the incision, meaning the patient will need little or no pain medication in most cases, and both the incision wound and the internal organs are less exposed to infection, for example. In most cases, patients are discharged on the same day and can return to their normal activities much more quickly than after a standard open surgery type of procedure.
The use of miniature endoscopic equipment that has been pioneered in human pediatric laparoscopy has extended to be very useful in avian medicine. Birds as small as 100g in size are able to be examined. It has long been common practice for avian veterinarians to use endoscopy to determine the gender of companion birds. More recently this has been replaced by DNA testing to determine gender to some extent, though those individuals involved with breeders, wholesalers, or retailers may still find the traditional method more appealing due to the ability to immediately determine the sex of the bird, compared to the lengthy process of DNA determination. Today, avian endoscopy includesu00a0coelioscopy, tracheoscopy, gastrointestinal endoscopy, and even recently adding endosurgery to the growing list of common procedures. The endoscope can also be used to retrieve foreign objects that may have been ingested by the bird. Cloacal examinations can be performed to better identify inflammatory conditions or obtain biopsy samples of tumors.
Endoscopy in avian medicine for the most part is, at this time, used more as a diagnostic procedure rather than a curative solution. Most of the current endoscopic procedures are single-entry techniques. The majority of all organs of clinical interest can be examined, including the oral cavity, esophagus, crop, proventriculus and ventriculus, glottis, and trachea, liver, lungs, air sacs, heart, kidneys, adrenal glands, spleen, pancreas,u00a0and intestinal tract, as well as the cloaca,u00a0 gonads, oviduct, and shell gland, for example.
To minimize the risk of post surgical infection, all endoscopic equipment should be thoroughly and properly cleaned and sterilized between uses, following the strict procedures and guidelines set forth by the manufacturer and health industry standards.
Endoscopy is a practical, affordable, and extremely versatile addition to any practice and can vastly improve upon the level of care provided for avian patients.u00a0 The capital investment is of a similar range to that of ultrasonography or radiography (typically costing between $10,000 and $20,000 for a modern rigid endoscopy system) and similarly to other diagnostic imaging modalities, is an appropriate tool for multiple species, such as cats, dogs,u00a0 rabbits, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and even fish.