A colonoscopy is a procedure to visualize and take small samples of tissue from the colon (i.e. large intestine). The samples are then sent for evaluation under a microscope to look for signs of damage or disease. Colonoscopy is used to help confirm disorders of the colon and rectum.
Why it’s done
Your veterinarian may recommend an colonoscopy if your pet has:
- A history of diarrhea, irregular, or bloody stools
- Ultrasound findings of abnormal changes in your pet’s colon
- Abnormal tissue visibly protruding from the rectum
How to prepare for your pet’s procedure
Before your pet’s colonoscopy, you will meet with one of our specialists to talk about the procedure and what to expect.
When you meet with our team, please bring a list of all medications that your pet is currently taking, including over the counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Before your pet’s procedure, you may be asked to discontinue giving certain medications that can increase the risk of bleeding or interfere with diagnostic results.
This is a good time to ask questions about the procedure and make sure you understand the risks and benefits.
Preoperative diagnostics and tests
Before your pet’s colonoscopy the following may be indicated:
- Abdominal Ultrasound
- Comprehensive blood panel
- Gastrointestinal blood panel
General Instructions for the Day of Surgery
- The bowels must be free of most stool for the specialists to see inside through the scope.
- You will be asked to administer a stool softener at home prior to your appointment. This prescription can generally be obtained through a local pharmacy.
- Give your pet nothing by mouth starting the evening before the procedure. This means that all food and water should be withheld.
- Please arrive for pet’s admission promptly at your scheduled arrival time.
- You will be asked to sign both an Anesthetic Consent Form as well as an Estimate, indicating your understanding of the procedure, risks, and associated costs.
What happens during a colonoscopy?
You pet will be given warm water treatment enemas to ensure clear visualization for our cameras. Your pet will be given a general anesthetic. Special instruments, including a camera, are passed into the rectum and colon. The specialists can visualize the lining of the colon and rectum and obtain samples.
Complications associated with a colonoscopy are extremely rare when appropriate preoperative testing has occurred, but can include the following:
After the procedure
- Following the procedure, you will be given a phone call with an update on your pet’s recovery. A scheduled discharge will be coordinated at that time.
- Please remove the bandage from your pet’s intravenous catheter site 10 to 15 minutes after arriving home.
- Many patients will not eat the night following anesthesia. If your pet has not eaten after 24 hours of returning home, please call Salt River.
- Some patients will vomit or have diarrhea following anesthesia. If the vomiting or diarrhea persists more than 24 hours, please call Salt River. In contrast, some patients may be constipated or may not have a bowel movement for up to 72 hours following anesthesia. If your pet is straining to defecate after 72 hours, please call Salt River.
The samples are submitted to a specialized laboratory for evaluation.
- The final biopsy results can take up to 2 weeks. Once the final results have returned and a treatment plan has been devised, our specialists will call you to discuss the findings and recommendations.
A recheck examination is required in 4 weeks.