How effective diagnostics are becoming a lifeline for vets and animals

One of the greatest challenges for vets is effectively diagnosing a condition. Whilst human medical science has progressed significantly over the last two decades, the animal sector has been much slower to evolve with technology generally much more limited and a willingness to invest in new diagnostic systems more rare. Although there are of course, pioneering surgeons, vets and companies working towards overcoming this.

In a recent article from The Telegraph, Veterinarian : Pete Wedderburn, predicts that over the next ten years there will be increased specialisation by vets, combined with greater adoption of technology as there are further advances in diagnostic equipment, monitoring and therapeutics. You can read the full article here

The challenges associated with diagnostic technology vary according to the animal and the diagnostic need. As an example, when buying a horse, the owner, or would be purchaser, is increasingly looking for reassurance that the animal has no injury, trauma or disease prior to purchase; this is particularly true of race horses. This poses potential difficulty for the vet in making an initial assessment and identifying any issues. Combine this with a poorly performing diagnostic device the assessment is even more difficult.

The most common device used in the examination of a horse is the endoscope, which can be used to visualise and evaluate the upper respiratory tract, parts of the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract and the reproductive tract in mares.

There are two types of endoscope used in endoscopic examination:

  • Fibre optic Endoscope – One of the more common devices, this endoscope is portable and consists of optical light fibres. The image is viewed through an eyepiece.
  • Video Endoscope – These are slightly more sophisticated devices that still feature light fibres, but there is also a lens and microchip in the distil tip. The picture is transmitted to a monitor or handheld device.

At STERIS Animal Health we support vets to deliver excellent surgical care and diagnostics to all animals, helping to create a healthier and safer world. In Autumn 2018 we will be launching our fully portable, flexible and high-resolution video endoscope. The ‘Equine Endo-I’ is available in 1.5 metre (Equine Airways) and 3 metre working lengths (Gastrointestinal) and is already available in the US. We will soon be bringing the device to the UK market and showcasing the device at the London Vet Show 2017. To register your interest please email

So what about smaller companion animals? As you might guess, the challenges faced by companion vets are very different to those experienced in the equine market. The endoscope used in companion practice is instead largely used to identify inflammation, abnormal swelling and areas of scarring internally, providing a clear visualisation of the condition or issue without the expense and inconvenience of having to make incisions. The endoscope can also be used to locate foreign bodies within cats and dogs (for instance, hairballs or bones). Once pinpointed, a vet can then be made aware of whether there is need to operate to remove it. Endoscopy can also be used to check for any form of gastrointestinal cancers.

In companion based practices there can be particular challenges in finding appropriate and effective technology for use in endoscopy procedures, often having to use second hand human devices or poorly performing equipment. This is compounded by the astronomical cost of new equipment, unaffordable to many small practices, and a lack of available floor space for large tower or stack systems.

In Winter 2018 STERIS Animal Health are proud to announce the launch of two further endoscopes based on the Endo-I technology. Fully portable and with one of the highest resolution images on the Endoscope market, The ‘Companion Endo-I ‘ comes with a 1 metre flex. The ‘Live Endo–I “for livestock and medium sized agricultural animals has a 1.5 metre working length.

Written by Anna Lindblad – Marketing and Business Improvement Manager (and ex-professional showjumper)

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