The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine provides endoscopy procedures to
equine patients in our hospital and on the farm through our equine field service. If you have questions
about our services, please contact us.
- For in-hospital treatment, please call (540) 231-4621 and select option 5.
- For on-farm treatment, please call (540) 231-9042.
What is Endoscopy?
involves using a small camera on the end of a tube, called an endoscope, to take images of the
body as it is passed along the desired surface (i.e. esophagus, airway). Upper and lower airway
endoscopy involve examining the airways (trachea) and pharyngeal regions, including the
guttural pouches. Gastroscopy involves passing the endoscope down the esophagus to the
How is the procedure performed?
- Horses are mildly sedated to perform the exam.
- Upper and lower airway exams are performed on the farm with 1 or 1.25 meter videoendoscope.
- The endoscope is passed up one or both nostrils so that the upper airway and
associated structures (epiglottis, arytenoid cartilages, guttural pouch, ethymoid turbinates) can
- Depending on the horses’ problem, the guttural pouches can be viewed or entered to look for
discharge or a cause of bleeding.
- The endoscope is then passed down the trachea to assess for inflammation, mucous, discharge,
tumors and/or foreign bodies.
- A cytology brush is often passed through the endoscope to collect samples for cytology and
culture to assist in diagnosing the horse’s problem.
- For gastroscopy, horses need to be held off grain after midnight and hay for 12 hours prior to
exam to be able to empty the stomach.
- Gastroscopy is performed in the clinic with 3 meter endoscope.
What problems can be diagnosed with endoscopy?
- Respiratory disease (i.e. pneumonia, “roarers,” heaves/recurrent airway obstruction, bronchitis)
- Guttural pouch mycosis/infection
- Gastric ulcers