Gastroenterology Services in Santa Barbara
This is the study of your pet's digestive system. This happens to be one of the most common organ systems which we see get sick in pets. If your pet has ever had diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, bloody or black tarry stool chances are you were dealing with a disease(s) process involving your pet's intestines, liver, pancreas, or circulation. Our goal initially may be a course of symptomatic supportive care such as changes in food, various medications and instruction not to allow your pet to eat plant material or other non-food stuff. If this does not cure the problem or if the problem continues, then you will be asked to consider allowing us to perform diagnostic tests to try to determine the cause of these symptoms. When this is required we often rely on a variety of different blood tests, fecal tests, x-rays, ultrasound, endoscopy (looking into esophagus, stomach and upper small intestine by use of a flexible scope) and colonoscopy (looking into the colon by use of a flexible scope). Certainly not every chronic vomiting or diarrhea situation calls for the use of all of the listed diagnostic tools but some do. All of the necessary tools and experience in their use are found here at LCAH.
RELATED DIAGNOSES treated on a regular basis at LCAH
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), food allergies and testing, intestinal foreign bodies, cancer, intussusception,polypectomy, pyloric stenosis, gastro-esophageal hernias, pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, Liver: shunts, hepatitis, gall bladder diseases and removal, cancer and removal.
EQUIPMENT AVAILABLE ON-SITE:
- Endoscope - A minimally invasive instrument used to examine inside the body through natural openings or through one or more tiny holes (laproscopy), rather than a large incision. Our endoscope consists of a flexible tube which can be directed in many directions at its end to see all areas of the lining of the esophagus, stomach and upper small intestine. This scope has a light delivery system for illumination, a lens for transmitting an image to an eyepiece and TV monitor and an additional channel to allow for insertion of medical instruments to retrieve intestinal lining tissue and in some cases perform minor surgical procedures such as polypectomies.
- Ultrasound - Ultrasound of the entire abdomen is very commonly performed here and has been an extremely useful and non-invasive tool to help us make a diagnosis of digestive diseases. It is used more commonly than even the endoscope but both complement one another.
- Laboratory - We use both on site as well as commercial laboratories for blood and urine tests. We use only commercial laboratories for cultures, PCR, exotic fecal tests and biopsies. Often the diagnosis is made in a laboratory from the specimens we have taken.
- Radiography (X-rays) - A very important diagnostic tool, often used first on a vomiting pet.
It is not unusual for us to remove small intestinal blockages, either foreign objects such as avocado seeds, balls, toys, or small intestinal tumors by using what is called a "laproscopic assisted procedure." The advantages to your pet is less pain by doing the surgery through smaller incisions. This idea is widely employed in human surgery for the same reasons.
Another commonly performed procedure done here at LCAH is removal of foreign materials such as cloth, plastic, rubber, leather, metallic, wood, rock and bone from the esophagus and stomach by simply using the endoscope and special endoscopic instruments placed into your pet's mouth, esophagus and stomach. In this instance, no incisions are needed provided we can safely extract the foreign material with the scope alone. Sometimes it is necessary to convert to an open procedure as not all esophageal and stomach foreign material can safely be removed this way. You should do the scoping at a facility that employs a doctor and staff that is experienced in boththoracic and abdominal open surgeries. Here at LCAH we are very experienced with all open surgeries involving the digestive system in both body cavities.
We once had a case in a Labrador Retriever where the owner came in frantic as the dog had eaten her wedding ring. X-rays showed the ring was in the dog's stomach along with lots of other foreign material including an intact pair of womens underwear. Both the wedding ring and underwear were easily and successfully removed form the dog's stomach without making an incision and the dog went home that same evening with a relieved owner. If the owner would have waited any longer the underwear would have caused serious illness had it gotten stuck in the small intestine.