Gastric Ulceration is extremely prevalent in the equine population. Studies have shown between 11 and 93 % of horses to be affected (in different types of horses). Signs can be vague and non-specific but there is no doubt it is a significant source of discomfort for a large number of horses.
The only way to definitely diagnose equine gastric ulceration syndrome is to pass a specialised endoscope into the stomach.
The horse's stomach must be empty of food and have minimal liquid in it. Horses must not have any food available for 16 hours before their gastroscope. They can still have water until 30 minutes beforehand.
Horses can come into the clinic overnight if this will be difficult to achieve at home.
Firstly we give the horse some sedation and, if at the clinic, the horse is positioned in the stocks.
The gastroscope is passed into one nostril to the back of the throat where it is swallowed and passed down the oesophagus. The majority of horses tolerate this very well.
Once in the stomach a little air is introduced to inflate the stomach - normally the stomach has folds which would prevent us fully examining the lining. A standard procedure is followed to ensure that we check all regions of the stomach right through to the outlet.
Images are then taken for future reference and the air is removed before gently withdrawing the gastroscope.