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Esophageal strictures can be caused due to foreign bodies, cancer, ingestion of caustic substances as well as acid reflux.

Esophageal stricture can be a devastating complication of esophageal foreign bodies because the scar tissue that forms once the esophagus heals is not as elastic as normal esophageal tissue. This leads to the formation of a ring within the esophagus that prevents passage of food and occasionally water.

Recent history of general anesthesia is common in cases of esophageal stricture due to gastroesophageal reflux. The acid can cause severe damage to the esophagus leading to a stricture. Esophageal strictures are typically treated with ballooning procedures, which slowly dilate esophageal wall. This process should be performed in several steps as overt acute dilation can lead to significant scar tissue formation and/or esophageal rupture, which can be life threatening. Procedures are typically performed every 5-7 days. Dogs will typically require 3-4 ballooning procedures in order to achieve enough dilation that they can eat well. However, some dogs will require many more procedures. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how many procedures will be required because it depends on each dog or cat's body's ability to form scar tissue.

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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