Diagnostic Services

Diagnostic Services

If only they could talk! In many cases, illness and disease goes undetected in pets because they cannot communicate that they're feeling unwell. This means that we have to rely on other tools and techniques to diagnose sickness in our companion animals.

At MEVV we are able to offer the following diagnostic services. Scroll down for more information on each one.

  • Routine, monitoring and critical  bloodwork
  • Urinalysis
  • Cytology and histopathology
  • Diagnostic imaging - including x-rays, dental x-rays, ultrasound and echocardiography 

In-house diagnostics

Bloodwork

We can get a lot of valuable information from blood profiles! They're often the first tool we utilise when diagnosing sickness, whether it has occurred acutely or may be reflective of a more chronic condition. Some patients need regular blood tests for monitoring ongoing health conditions, or to assess the efficacy of certain medications. 

At MEVV we are well-equipped to evaluate blood profiles in-house, and routinely send more complicated cases away to a veterinary pathology lab for more in-depth reporting and assessment. Typically, we evaluate the following parameters:

  •  Red blood cells - looking for changes in shape, size and any deficiencies that may suggest anaemia
  • White bloods cells - looking for signs of infection or inflammation
  • Major organ system function - including the liver, kidneys, pancreas and thyroid, as well as overall systemic health
  • Blood glucose 
  • Electrolytes 
  • Protein 
  • Cholesterol and other fatty acids 

Most pets will go home with a small clipped patch on their neck or leg, as these sites have easily-accessible veins for veterinarians to use. The vast majority of pets tolerate blood draws very well - in some cases, light sedation can be used to reduce stress and make the overall process smoother. Your veterinarian will discuss your options with you on the day. 

Urinalysis

We call it "liquid gold" for a reason - again, we can get a lot of useful information from urine! The colour, concentration and contents can provide an overview of systemic health, as well as inform us on kidney and bladder function and health.

There are several components to urinalysis. These include:

  • Assessing concentration - highly concentrated urine, or highly dilute urine, can tell us a lot about how well-hydrated your pet is, or how well their kidneys are able to concentrate water and other salts and electrolytes 
  • Evaluating colour - most pets produce clear yellow wee, so any changes in colour can be a sign of an underlying issue
  • Looking for the presence of any protein, blood, white cells, unusual cells, crystals or bacteria and other infectious organisms

Tips for acquiring a urine sample at home

ALWAYS collect urine in a clean container! Old Tupperware or takeout containers that have been washed to remove any residual sugar, salt etc. are perfect. Alternatively, our team can provide you with a sterile container - this is the best option for ensuring bacterial contamination of the sample is minimised.

The sooner we can analyse the urine the better! The longer the urine is outside the patient the more prone it is to developing crystals and other sediment that can interfere with the results. We recommend dropping the sample off to us as soon as you can. If this isn't possible, label the container with your pet's full name and the date of collection and pop it in the fridge. We recommend discarding urine that is > 24 hours old and collecting a fresh sample.

Dogs - take your dog out on a lead first thing in the morning, and let them sniff around. As they go to squat or lift their leg, sneak in behind or underneath them and position the container to catch the stream of urine. 

Cats - remove all absorbent litter from their tray, and clean it as thoroughly as possible. You can tear up small bits of plastic or use a non-absorbent litter (e.g. CatrineTM) to encourage them to toilet normally. Check the tray regularly, and as soon as you notice a sample, collect it in a clean container.  

Cytology and histopathology services

 We see lumps and bumps come in all different shapes and sizes. But did you know it is nearly impossible to diagnose a mass without first evaluating it under a microscope? The appearance of cells from a suspect lump can tell us a lot about their type and expected behaviour.

There are two main techniques for acquiring a sample from a mass:

  • Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) - involves inserting the tip of a small needle into a mass and poking around. The goal is to collect a small cell sample for cytology - i.e. the evaluation of individual or clusters of cells under the microscope. It is useful for identifying cell type/s in a mass but, because the cell yield is typically quite small, it won't provide much information on cell behaviour. For this we require a biopsy
  • Biopsy - typically performed under sedation or general anaesthesia, a lump can be biopsied by either inserting a punch tool and removing a small cone of tissue (incisional biopsy), or being removed in its entirety (excisional biopsy). We always send biopsy samples away to the laboratory to allow and expert pathologist to examine and interpret the results. This can take between 1-2 weeks, depending on the size of the mass and/or the number of samples submitted 

We are equipped with a microscope for in-house assessment of smears and FNAs, and have the capacity to send more complicated lesions away for assessment by an expert pathologist. Your vet will guide you as to the most appropriate sampling method for your pet's lump. 

Diagnostic imaging services

X-rays

At MEVV we are equipped with a fully functional x-ray machine and software to allow us to take full and comprehensive x-ray images of your pet.

An x-ray is a form of radiation that is absorbed in differing amounts by different tissues. They are great for evaluating bones and some soft tissue structures in the body. When we take an x-ray, we are essentially taking a photo but using x-rays instead of normal light to cast shadows and reveal internal structures. 

We often recommend that pets be sedated for x-rays. This is because it's extremely important for them to lie still as the image is being taken, otherwise it can come out blurry and make interpretation difficult. It also makes the procedure less stressful for the pet, as sometimes we have to hold them in funny positions to get the best image. 

Ultrasound

Ultrasound is a technology that involves passing sound waves through a patient. The sound waves hit internal structures and bounce back to the probe, which creates  images that can then be interpreted. It is a fabulous tool for evaluating soft tissue structures, as it is more sensitive for their intricate structure and allows them to be assessed in real time.

We are lucky to have recently acquired a new state-of-the-art ultrasound machine! It produces beautiful detailed images that allow us to get a lot out of our ultrasound studies. All our vets have recently up-skilled in abdominal ultrasound and are keen to make the most of having this fabulous bit of equipment around!

Echocardiography

An echocardiogram (or "echo") is a particular type of ultrasound study that involves particular focus on the heart. It is great for evaluating subtle changes in the structure of the heart, as well as movement of blood through the different chambers, as changes in these two features can be indicative of different types of heart disease.

Dr. Libby Sorensen has recently up-skilled in echocardiography. We are now able to offer EPIC studies that include an echocardiogram as well as x-ray assessment of the heart, particularly for patients with mitral valve disease. Please speak to one of our veterinarians about whether your pet is suitable for an EPIC study.

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