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Colonoscopy is performed after a complete diagnostic work-up and therapeutic plan have failed to resolve problems linked to the lower intestine. To perform colonoscopy, the patient is anesthetized and a flexible fiberoptic endoscope is passed into the colon. Air, passed through the scope, increases the view within the colon. Biopsies can be obtained by passing an instrument through an opening in the scope. Colonoscopy provides a valuable, non-surgical means to diagnose large bowel disorders. To perform colonoscopy, it is important that the colon be clean of fecal matter so that the surface of the colon can be visualized. This often requires withholding food for 24 to 48 hours and giving your pet a solution to drink which "cleanses" the colon. Warm-water enemas may also be used to clear the colon. Most patients are discharged the same day of the procedure.

The major symptoms and reasons to perform a colonoscopy are:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Blood in the stool (persistent hematochezia)
  • Study of a growth in the colon or rectum
  • Straining during defecation (persistent tenesmus)
  • Excessive mucus in the stool
  • Stools of significantly decreased or narrowed size
See our departments

Internal Medicine

Internal medicine is practiced by internists, or doctors that specialize in the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of most diseases that are not surgical in nature. Thus, as in human medicine, internists can be called a "doctor's doctor" due to the fact that they tend to specialize in patients with conditions that are more difficult to treat and/or diagnose. Internists are also often trained to use advanced diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that may not be available at regular veterinarians. These include rhinoscopy, bronchoscopy, gastroduodenoscopy, colonoscopy, vaginoscopy, cystoscopy; thoracic and abdominal ultrasounds, computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans, stent placement and management including tracheal stents, urethral and uretheral stents, cystoscopic-guided removal of bladder stones, respiratory testing, blood and infectious disease workups, feeding tube placement, obtaining biopsies and cytology samples of many tissues, joint taps, bone marrow aspiration and core biopsy, CSF taps, and many more advanced laboratory testing.

The Role of an Internal Medicine Specialist

Your pet's condition may be more complicated than your regular veterinarian feels comfortable diagnosing and treating. Furthermore, your pet may have multiple underlying conditions that have conflicting treatments. This kind of patient will benefit from a consultation with an internist.

From animals that don't seem to be able to stop having accidents in the house to animals with severe heart disease that are oxygen dependent, and internist has the experience and knowledge necessary to deliver the absolute best care available. Some of the advanced diagnostics available can change a situation from one where we don't know what is causing a dog to stop eating and act tired to having the information we need to begin immediate treatment for a speedy and full recovery.

An internist is NOT a replacement for your regular veterinarian, but a power complement that works closely with your pet's family doctor to ensure that they receive the absolute best medical care that is available today.

VCA Highlands Ranch Animal Specialty & Emergency Center's department of internal medicine is lead by Dr. Steffen Sum. His focus includes extensive work and ongoing training in urology, diagnostic services, hemodialysis, infectious disease, advanced imaging and endoscopy.

Our Internal Medicine Services

Abdominocentesis
Bronchoalveolar Lavage BAL
Bronchoscopy
Colonoscopy

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