An essential part of every veterinarian’s toolbox is the ability to perform diagnostic tests. Many answers can be acquired from just a tiny amount of blood or a small piece of tissue. This three-week rotation block I’m learning the large repertoire of diagnostic tests we have available at the AVC, such as hematology, parasitology, bacteriology, virology, and cytology, among others. It also means I’m back in the pathology lab!
So far this week, we’ve been reviewing the process of working through a diagnostic case. We’re responsible for looking at basic labs, which usually starts with blood work (a complete blood count and chemistry panel) and a urinalysis. We then come up with a problem list based on these results and talk about what we would tell the owners and recommend for further testing.
We’ve also been in the lab learning how to look at blood smears, and back in the pathology lab doing post-mortem examinations, another important part of diagnostics. Post-mortems (the technical term is necropsy) can offer closure for owners who may not have known why their pet passed away or was ill. It also offers clinicians closure when they’re unable to reach a definitive diagnosis with external diagnostics. Pathology is like a veterinary treasure hunt! I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks while we continue to learn about all the aspects of diagnostic medicine and spend more time down in the pathology lab. There’s always so much more to learn, but this rotation is definitely going to be packing in a ton of information!