by Bonnie Markoff, DVM

We are so excited at Animal Care Clinic to be able to offer the Central Coast an amazing new technology:  we can take photos inside your dog’s stomach and intestines with a small camera that is swallowed!

Meet “Ellie,” the first patient our Veterinarians recommended to use the Alicam camera.  “Ellie” is 13 years old and has had trouble with her esophagus for quite some time ( ).  As she’s gotten older she was developing trouble with intermittent vomiting, almost daily regurgitation of water and some weight loss.  Our routine evaluation was pointing towards the possibility of something inside her intestines causing troubles.  Traditionally we would recommend referral to an internal medicine specialist who would anesthetize “Ellie” and look into her stomach and upper small intestine with an endoscope.  None of us were very excited about anesthetizing “Ellie,” but we thought she was in ideal candidate for the camera.


The Alicam camera is about the size of a large Vitamin tablet.  It contains 4 small cameras and its own light source.  Dr. Markoff administered it just like a pill after “Ellie” had been fasting for 24 hours.  As soon as it entered the dark, it started taking pictures.  Almost 29,000 photos were taken over 16 hours!  “Ellie’s” dad collected the camera from her stool and it was sent to an internist – the camera travelled instead of “Ellie!”  So many photos were taken that you can watch them like a video!

Analysis of “Ellie’s” photos revealed some unexpected findings!  She had mild ulceration of her esophagus and stomach, along with signs of inflammatory bowel disease.  Dr. Markoff instituted treatment for the ulcers and made some diet changes and “Ellie” is greatly improved!  She has been playing on the beach with her sister just like the old days!


There are many advantages to using the Alicam camera over endoscopy.  Cost and convenience are huge in the eyes of the pet owner.  The procedure is also much easier on the patient (while the fasting is no fun, that has to happen for both procedures.)  From a medical point of view, we get the advantage of being able to measure how long it takes for the camera to move through the gastrointestinal tract and we get to see all of the small intestine.  Endoscopy has the advantage of being able to take biopsies, but the endoscope cannot visualize the entire intestinal tract, so much can be missed.


If you have a dog (sorry, camera is too big for cats!) with gastrointestinal troubles that you think might benefit from this camera, call one of our Veterinarians or set up an appointment with us now.  We would be honored to help your pup!