At Sunstone Veterinary Specialists, we are committed to helping your pet live a high quality of life, despite his or her condition. Our knowledgeable internal medicine veterinary specialists, Dr. Elliott and Dr. Tobin, are experienced in managing a wide range of conditions with compassion and care.
During an appointment, many steps are taken to accurately diagnose your pet. Visits typically consist of the following:
- Medical history review
- Examination and consultation
- Diagnostic tests and procedures, such as x-ray, ultrasound, or bloodwork
Client education is an important part of the diagnostic process. Dr. Elliott and Dr. Tobin always discuss their findings and provide recommendations. Our goal is to find a treatment plan that best fits each family.
Medical History Review
Prior to your pet’s initial consultation, our veterinarians will review your pet’s entire medical history, including routine wellness exams and previous testing results. A thorough medical history review is critical to accurately and efficiently diagnosing your pet.
Examination and Consultation
Our veterinarians always perform a thorough physical examination of their patients during consultations. Examining your pet and observing his or her behavior helps Dr. Elliott and Dr. Tobin formulate a unique diagnostic and treatment plan for your pet.
Some of our diagnostic tests and procedures require anesthesia. Because your pet’s health is our highest priority, we take several measures to ensure his or her comfort and safety. As part of our commitment to you and your pet, we always do the following for procedures that require anesthesia:
- Pre-procedure health check to confirm your pet can tolerate the anesthesia
- Continuous monitoring by one of our experienced, licensed veterinary technicians
- Post-procedure anesthetic recovery monitoring to ensure that your pet wakes up safely and comfortably from anesthesia.
Blood Tests and Urinalysis
Blood and urine tests are common tests that are often recommended when a pet is ill. Samples are easily collected, and results of these tests give a broad understanding of organ function and general health.
Basic blood and urine panels are common starting points when we first meet your pet. Our internal medicine veterinary specialists may also recommend specialized blood and urine testing, depending on the initial test results.
X-ray and Ultrasound
Diagnostic imaging is a valuable tool that helps us better understand your pet’s health. Technology such as x-ray and ultrasound creates high-definition pictures of your pet’s internal organs. These images go beyond what can be identified from a physical exam alone, providing us with a better understanding of your pet’s overall health.
X-ray images give us an overall picture of your pet’s internal organs while ultrasound provides in-depth, detailed views of specific internal organs. Because of these differences, we often recommend both x-ray and ultrasound. This allows us to gain the maximum amount of information in a quick, efficient manner.
Ultrasound imaging helps us see your pet’s abdomen, muscles, and tendons in more detail. This type of imaging is often used alongside x-ray, which helps us gain a complete picture of your pet’s condition.
Quick and minimally invasive, endoscopy is a group of procedures that allows us to examine the inside of a hollow organ or cavity, such as the nose or lungs. The procedure is completed with an endoscope, a rigid or flexible tube with a small camera and light source. Common areas examined with endoscopy include:
- Gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach and small or large intestine (Gastroduodenoscopy)
- Airway (bronchoscopy)
- Bladder (cystoscopy)
- Nasal passages (rhinoscopy)
The images and videos created from endoscopy help us identify any irregularities, such as ulcers or polyps, and take biopsies of affected areas without the need for invasive surgery.
Obtaining a joint tap, also known as arthrocentesis, is critical for diagnosing joint disease. Diseases of the joint, such as autoimmune arthritis, can cause painful swelling, lameness, and difficulty walking. Because a variety of systemic diseases can affect your pet’s joints, determining the possible causes of joint disease helps us choose the most effective treatment plan.
A joint tap is a relatively quick procedure, which involves obtaining a fluid sample from the affected joint or joints. This fluid sample is then evaluated in a laboratory and provides us with important information about the cause of your pet’s joint problems.
Bone Marrow Aspirates and Core Biopsies
Evaluating your pet’s bone marrow is important for ruling out serious health conditions. Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets all grow and develop in the bone marrow of the body. Unexpected changes in the number of cells or platelets may be a sign of cancer, infectious diseases, or other disease processes. These conditions can be life-threatening because damage to blood cells can affect the entire body.
Bone marrow aspirates and core biopsy also help our team determine the appropriate treatment for each pet, by providing us with individualized information on your pet’s blood cells and platelets.
Abdominocentesis is a procedure that involves the removal of fluid in the abdomen. This can be caused by a variety of conditions, including heart disease, and is never normal. Removal of this fluid allows us to test the fluid, which helps our team accurately diagnose and effectively treat your pet. Removal also helps relieve pressure and make your pet more comfortable.
Thoracocentesis is the removal of abnormal fluid in the chest cavity. Different conditions or diseases can cause fluid build-up in the cavity around the lungs, which can lead to lung collapse and difficulty breathing. Depending on the severity of the build-up, fluid in the chest can be life-threatening. Removal of this fluid helps your pet breathe more easily and feel more comfortable overall. Examining the fluid that we remove also helps us diagnose your pet and determine the best course of treatment.
For this procedure, we remove abnormal fluid from the sack around the heart. When fluid collects in this area, it can cause poor circulation, which can lead to your pet becoming severely lethargic or even collapsing. Certain diseases and conditions cause fluid build-up in the sack around the heart and is never normal. This is a serious condition and can be life threatening if the fluid is not removed. Removal of this fluid improves your pet’s overall comfort and lowers the immediate risk of dangerous complications.
Our internal medicine team is committed to providing the very best care for your pet. Contact us today to learn more about our internal medicine procedures or to schedule an appointment.