Camera in a Capsule: A New Way to View Horses’ GI Tracts
What if your horse could swallow a tiny capsule containing a camera, giving you and your veterinarian a look at the nearly 100 feet of twisting, turning intestinal tract, and any gastrointestinal issues therein? This isn’t futuristic musing—one veterinarian has determined that the approach, called wireless capsule endoscopy, is a workable way to check the gastrointestinal mucosa (lining) for ulcers and injury, though maybe for just the first 80-or-so feet.
Renaud Leguillette, DVM, Msc, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVSMR, professor of equine internal medicine in the University of Calgary’s Department of Veterinary Clinical and Diagnostic Science, in Alberta, Canada, wanted to be able to see “intraluminal” lesions within the small and large intestines. These are likely quite common but challenging to diagnose with current imaging techniques. So, taking a page from human and small animal medicine, he recently tested the new imaging technique in horses, presenting his findings at the 2018 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco, California.
In contrast to traditional endoscopy, which involves passing a 3-meter-long scope (a little less than 10 feet) through the horse’s nostril into the GI tract—only reaching just past the stomach to the first section of the small intestine–capsule endoscopy is completely wireless, with the capsule able to travel the length of the tract, recording video as long as its battery permits
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