Articles

Cats + Diagnosis

  • Pre-anesthetic testing is the best way to minimize anesthetic risks and ensure good surgical outcomes. Pre-anesthetic testing consists of, at minimum, a full physical examination. Depending on the patient and the reason for anesthesia, blood testing including CBC and biochemistry is often recommended and additional testing such as urinalysis, radiographs, EKG or more advanced testing may be needed. The results of pre-anesthetic testing are used to formulate the safest anesthetic plan for your pet.

  • Having your pet properly prepared for a blood test helps to ensure that the results are as accurate and reliable as possible. Preparation for these two types of tests is slightly different. Your veterinarian will give you specific instructions before your appointment. It is important that you follow these instructions exactly to ensure accurate test results.

  • The American Animal Hospital Association and American Veterinary Medical Association have established guidelines to standardize preventive health care for cats, helping them to live longer, healthier lives. This handout provides an overview of the recommendations within these guidelines and why they are so important.

  • X-ray images are produced by directing X-rays through a part of the body towards an absorptive surface such as an X-ray film. The image is produced by the differing energy absorption of various parts of the body: bones are the most absorptive and leave a white image on the screen whereas soft tissue absorbs varying degrees of energy depending on their density producing shades of gray on the image; while air is black. X-rays are a common diagnostic tool used for many purposes including evaluating heart size, looking for abnormal soft tissue or fluid in the lungs, assessment of organ size and shape, identifying foreign bodies, assessing orthopedic disease by looking for bone and joint abnormalities, and assessing dental disease.

  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone is produced in the brain and regulates the production of cortisol. When blood cortisol levels are low it is secreted to stimulate more production and when cortisol is high it will suppress the production of ACTH. Cushing’s disease caused by a pituitary tumor will result in elevated ACTH levels in the blood, whereas Cushing’s disease caused by an adrenal tumor will result in lower ACTH blood levels as production will be suppressed by the cortisol released from the adrenal tumor. Endogenous ACTH cannot be used alone to diagnose Cushing’s disease, but can help determine what type of Cushing’s disease the patient has.

  • Serum biochemistry measures the amount of enzymes, proteins, sugar, electrolytes, minerals, and hormones found in the liquid portion of the blood. Determining the amount of these factors in the blood can provide evidence of dysfunction or disease in certain organs or metabolic pathways indicative of certain diseases. This article provides general information on the most routinely measured factors in serum and common reasons for abnormal readings.

  • Electrolytes are the salts and metallic components that are dissolved within the blood serum (serum is the liquid portion of blood). The electrolytes of greatest clinical importance are sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, phosphorus, and calcium. It is important to detect changes in electrolyte concentrations so that these alterations can be treated prior to the situation becoming severe or life threatening.

  • Serum iron tests are indicated when the results from a complete blood count indicate that your pet is anemic and that the red blood cells are microcytic and hypochromic. Because blood is a rich source of iron, chronic external blood loss can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Tests to assess iron deficiency require a single blood sample that is sent to a veterinary referral laboratory. Additional tests such as serum biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and fecal evaluation are also used as screening tests to determine the cause or source of the chronic blood loss.

  • Serum contains a large number of proteins that perform diverse functions which include providing cellular nutrition, defending against infections, playing a role in inflammation, and acting as hormones or enzymes. Protein electrophoresis is a specialized test that analyzes specific groups of proteins in the blood serum and measures how much of each group of protein is present. The results of the analysis help diagnose specific diseases, such as infection and some types of cancer.

  • A biopsy is one of the more common diagnostic procedures performed in cats. Biopsies provide valuable insight into the type of cells in an abnormal area of skin or a skin growth and whether the growth poses a more serious health threat to your pet. Either the entire mass or a small representative section of skin is removed and submitted to a veterinary pathologist, who will perform a histopathology analysis. The pathologist will attempt to determine the nature of the lesion, identify the type of cells and their relationship to each other, as well as any evidence of malignancy.

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