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Diagnosis

  • An electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) is a test that is used to assess the heart. More specifically, an ECG measures the transmission of an electrical impulse through the heart. This test is not painful and is typically performed as an outpatient procedure. Analyzing the electrical impulses produced as the heart beats can help identify a number of different abnormalities within the heart.

  • A fecal Baermann is a special fecal test used to diagnose infection by parasites that pass larvae in stool instead of eggs. A small golf-ball sized sample of fresh stool is mixed with warm water to encourage larvae to separate from the fecal material to allow identification. The most common parasite diagnosed with a fecal Baermann is lungworm, which typically causes signs of coughing.

  • A fecal flotation is a screening test for internal parasites. It is performed by mixing a small sample of stool with a special solution that causes any parasite eggs to float to the surface of the solution. These are transferred to a glass slide an examined under a microscope. Young pets need multiple fecal flotations to screen for infection, while adults may only need a fecal screening once yearly unless they are at higher risk of infection. The test may have false negatives if the parasites are not yet producing eggs, if there are too few eggs produced, if the eggs are produced sporadically, or if the parasite species are not amenable to diagnosis by fecal flotation.

  • A fecal occult blood test screens for the presence of hemoglobin (a component of red blood cells) in a fecal sample. Many conditions can cause blood to appear in the stool including intestinal ulceration, neoplasia, dental disease, and parasites. More testing is needed if the fecal occult blood test is positive. False negatives can occur from intermittent bleeding. False positives can also occur from what the pet has eaten in the last 3 days, such as raw/undercooked meat, raw vegetables, and some canned foods. Your veterinarian may suggest repeat tests to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

  • FIP is a disease caused by a mutated (changed) strain of feline coronavirus. Unfortunately, routine blood testing for feline coronavirus is not clinically useful. Exposure to any strain of feline coronavirus will result in an immune response and the production of antibodies. A working diagnosis of FIP is typically made on the basis of the cat's clinical history, as well as supportive laboratory data. Histopathology remains the best way to diagnose FIP in the living cat.

  • Cytology is the microscopic examination of cells that have been collected from body tissues. Fine needle aspiration (FNA), also called fine needle biopsy, is the most frequently used technique in cytology. It is typically used to sample lumps and bumps on the body; however, it is also used to evaluate internal organs and body fluids. A sterile fine gauge needle is attached to an empty syringe and is introduced into the tissue. The tissue cells or fluid are aspirated when the plunger of the syringe is drawn back while the needle is held in the tissue. The cells are placed onto a clean glass slide, dried, and stained with special dyes. The cells are then examined under a microscope. Cytology by FNA does not always provide a diagnosis but contributes valuable information that ultimately leads to a final diagnosis.

  • Flow cytometry is a laboratory technique that can be used for counting, examining, and sorting cells. The sample is passed through a light source and as the cells move through the path of the light source, they scatter the light. The scattered light is captured by lenses, translated into an electrical signal, and is then analyzed and displayed as a graphical representation of the cell populations within the sample. Flow cytometry is used to count and group cells within a blood sample. It is also used in the characterization of cellular subpopulations; for example, to distinguish between benign and malignant lymphocytes.

  • Gastrointestinal endoscopy uses a flexible tube with a camera or viewing port to inspect the esophagus, stomach, proximal small intestine, or colon for evidence of disease-causing clinical signs characteristic of gastrointestinal disease. Foreign bodies can often be retrieved. Biopsies are taken of abnormal and normal tissue, as not all conditions cause gross changes to the stomach or intestinal surface. The endoscope cannot reach all areas of the small intestine, so other tests may be needed to diagnose disease in this area. Endoscopic pinch biopsies are not full thickness so if diagnosis is not achieved with endoscopic biopsies, additional testing including surgical biopsies may be needed. 12-18 hours fasting and enemas are required prior to endoscopy depending on the area being studied.

  • Gastrointestinal endoscopy uses a flexible tube with a camera or viewing port to inspect the esophagus, stomach, proximal small intestine, or colon for evidence of disease-causing clinical signs characteristic of gastrointestinal disease. Foreign bodies can often be retrieved. Biopsies are taken of abnormal and normal tissue, as not all conditions cause gross changes to the stomach or intestinal surface. The endoscope cannot reach all areas of the small intestine, so other tests may be needed to diagnose disease in these areas. Endoscopic pinch biopsies are not full thickness so if diagnosis is not achieved with endoscopic biopsies, additional testing including surgical biopsies may be needed. 12-18 hours fasting and enemas are required prior to endoscopy depending on the area being studied.

  • A Holter monitor is a portable device used to monitor the electrical activity of the heart continuously and can be an effective and non-invasive way to help your veterinarian evaluate heart conditions especially when trying to determine the cause of fainting episodes or evaluate treatment. Many cats are not bothered by it and ignore its presence.

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