Gastroduodenoscopy is the examination of the esophagus, stomach and initial part of the small intestine. Strictures of the esophagus can be caused by trauma from a previous foreign object or from severe acid reflux and can make it difficult for the dog or cat to swallow solid food. These strictures can be dilated with a balloon to increase the diameter of the esophagus and allow better nutrition. Common foreign bodies found in the esophagus include fish hooks, needle and thread, dog or cat toys and bones.
Examination of the stomach and duodenum usually also involves biopsies of these areas for diagnosis of disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, Helicobacter infections, or cancer which may not be visually apparent. It is also used to retrieve foreign bodies from the stomach. Some foreign bodies that require immediate removal include coins (pennies contain zinc which can cause a severe anemia), lead items such as fishing or curtain weights which can cause lead poisoning, and sharp objects such as needles or fishing hooks which can puncture the stomach and lead to widespread infection. However, many other objects, although not immediately life threatening, can cause severe illness by inducing chronic vomiting or obstructing the flow to the small intestines. Cloth, toys, ribbon, and bottle caps are common objects that dogs or cats might ingest.Author: Dana Brooks, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM