Case Study

Treatment of gastric ulcers can be very expensive, it is therefore important for you as an owner to have the correct diagnosis before beginning this treatment process. A months worth of gastrogard is usually prescribed for the treatment of ulcers and can cost upwards of $1,000. The only definitive way to diagnose this disease is by direct visualization of the ulcers inside the stomach along the gastric mucosa. Blood work can sometimes be suggestive of ulcers, but cannot confirm the problem. Seeing as the need to make the correct diagnosis for the best possible treatment is our primary goal at Boulder valley vet, we are proud to announce that we have just invested in a 3.3 meter video endoscope that is ready for use. The scope is fully portable, allowing us to examine your horse on the farm instead of hauling your horse to the nearest referral center. It is also fully digital and allows digital video and picture capture for your records and referral consultation.

to the diagnosis of gastric ulcers, the scope is also instrumental in several other ways. Horses that choke, can often have tearing along their esophagus that will lead to stricture and recurrent choke. The scope will enable us to identify those cases and begin early treatment. Although this particular endoscope is long enough to reach the stomach, standard upper airway exams may still be performed with the added benefit of the digital monitor and video capabilities.

Here are some common presenting complaints for a horse with gastric ulceration:

  • Change in eating and drinking behavior
  • Weight loss
  • Change in attitude
  • Recurrent colic
  • Dull hair coat
  • Less-than-optimal performance
  • Foals may also grind their teeth or lay on their backs

This is an image of an obstruction in the esophagus caused by a food bolus. This is commonly known as choke. Many chokes can be easily resolved without further complication, however those that are more difficult to resolve can often result in tearing along the esophageal mucosa. Depending on the direction of the tear, some tears will result in a narrowing of the lumen of the esophagus. These narrowings are called strictures and will predispose the horse to future choke episodes. Strictures that are severe enough will often result in the demise of the horse, as they can be very difficult to correct. Using an endoscope, we can detect the early signs for horses that will be prone to stricture and initiate early treatment, giving the horse the best possible chance for full recovery.