Gastroscopy describes a complete examination of the two lining tissues of the horse’s stomach and esophagus using a 3.5m flexible video-endoscope. It is performed under light sedation and images are captured at specific points around the stomach and are graded and defined by type.
Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) is much more common than most horse owners realize. If your horse is underperforming, has behavioral changes, has a poor appetite, poor coat condition or pain on girthing then they may be suffering from gastric ulcers. Using gastroscopy to visualize the horse’s stomach, we are able to see whether ulcers are present or not and also which type. Once diagnosed, we can offer the most appropriate treatment.
There are two main forms of gastric ulcer:
- Primary squamous ulceration, which occurs in the white top half of the stomach as a result of increased acid exposure. This condition is common in racehorses and sport horses (up to 90%), and typically causes slowed eating, variable appetite, weight loss and poor performance. Known risk factors are daytime forage deprivation, high concentrate diets, prolonged exercise on an empty stomach and recurrent transport.
- Primary glandular or pyloric disease, which occurs in the bottom half of the stomach and is believed to reflect a reduced ability of this tissue to protect itself from the acid that is normally there. Glandular disease is more common in sport and leisure horses (50-60%) than racehorses (<30%). Common clinical signs are behavioral change, development of girthing pain and poor performance.
After gastroscopy, a specific treatment regime is devised based upon the location, severity and type of ulceration found, in addition targeted advice on changing management and feeding practice is given in order to improve gastric health and limit future ulcer development. Most horses are treated for 28 days, after which gastroscopy is repeated.