Educational Articles

Cats + Diagnosis

  • Addison's disease (or hypoadrenocorticism) is caused by a decreased production of two hormones from the adrenal gland. These hormones are cortisol (a stress hormone) and aldosterone (a mineralocorticoid hormone that regulates the body's water balance through its effects on sodium and potassium).

  • Antibodies are specialized proteins, also called immunoglobulins that are primarily found in the bloodstream. They are produced by specialized white blood cells called plasma cells, a form of lymphocyte.

  • Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive therapy that is used to examine, diagnose, and treat diseases and conditions that affect joints. It requires a specialized piece of equipment called an arthroscope which will allow your veterinarian to look inside the joint using a small fiber optic camera that is hooked up to a monitor. It often requires general anesthesia; however, small incisions in the joint allow for a quicker recovery than traditional methods allow. The recovery time will depend on the extent of the injury, but compared to traditional surgery, recovery time is generally much shorter.

  • Bile acids are made in the liver, released into the intestine to help digest fat, and are reabsorbed into the bloodstream. They can be measured in the blood to determine if the liver is working properly. Indications for the test include elevated liver enzymes, seizures, poor growth, and low blood albumin. The test is usually performed after a 12 hour fast and consists of the measurement of serum bile acids before and 2 hours after a meal. The test can be affected by poor intestinal motility – either from disease, sedation/anesthesia, or if the pet has had part of the intestine removed that is responsible for absorption of bile acids. Bile acids will be high if the liver is not functioning properly. It does not rule out liver disease as disease can affect part of the liver without significantly affecting bile acid production. Elevated bile acids may warrant further diagnostics or monitoring depending on your pet’s condition.

  • Having your pet properly prepared before blood collection helps to ensure that test results are as accurate and reliable as they can be. Sometimes abnormal test results say more about how the pet was prepared than about true illness.

  • Bone marrow is vitally important for the production of blood cells, specifically red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Bone marrow is commonly collected and examined when abnormalities are found in the circulating blood. Bone marrow examination is complicated and should be done by a specialist. The pathologist’s report typically provides information about the health of the marrow, what types of cells are present, whether abnormal cells are found, and other details that may help to explain the patient’s illness. However, in some cases, bone marrow examination may do nothing more than confirm that there is a problem.

  • The fastest way to examine large numbers of white blood cells is to look at a buffy coat smear. One of the most important cells to look for in a buffy coat is called a mast cell. Mast cells play an important role in allergies and related conditions. In healthy pets, mast cells are found almost exclusively in body tissues and only very rarely in the blood stream. When mast cells are present in the blood stream, systemic mastocytosis is present. This means that the cancer has spread and prognosis is very poor.

  • Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear, colorless fluid found in the brain and spinal cord. The collection of CSF is usually indicated when a pet shows clinical signs, such as seizures, incoordination, circling behavior, and neck or back pain, when no obvious cause is known. The veterinary pathologist will evaluate the sample for a total nucleated cell count, a red blood cell count, a total protein determination, and a concentration of the cells in the sample. The presence of bacteria or fungal organisms may be detected along with increased numbers of inflammatory cells, leading to a diagnosis of bacterial or fungal infection. Neoplastic cells may also be found, indicating an underlying tumor within the brain or spinal cord.

  • Coagulation is the series of events that result in the formation of a clot. In the body, coagulation occurs after any injury to a blood vessel or tissue, in order to stop bleeding. Some breeds of dogs are known to have a higher incidence of clotting factor deficiencies and with these breeds, coagulation tests may be used for screening purposes prior to diagnostic or surgical procedures. There are some tests that can be performed in the veterinary clinic while others must be sent to a reference laboratory for evaluation.

  • The Complete Blood Count, usually just called a CBC, is one of the most basic blood tests your veterinarian can request, and yet it is one of the most important tests for determining the health status of a pet. It includes a series of measurements that describe the quantity and quality of the cellular elements in the blood.