Your vet as a tele­vi­sion star

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

Iused to love watch­ing the tele­vi­sion pro­gramme CSI, with its cool ‘‘Who Are You?’’ theme tune, the who­dun­nit cases and the im­pres­sive di­ag­nos­tic test­ing in the lab.

Vet­eri­nary medicine is like CSI, ques­tion isn’t ‘‘ Who did it?’’ but wrong with this pet?’’

This ques­tion forms a huge amount of a vet­eri­nar­ian’s work­load. Find­ing the an­swer can be like a who­dun­nit, with ei­ther no sus­pects or too many.

The an­swer is the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the na­ture and cause of a prob­lem. We call this the di­ag­no­sis.

With­out a di­ag­no­sis, the prog­no­sis, or the prob­a­ble out­look, and sub­se­quent treat­ment or so­lu­tion are much more dif­fi­cult.

As vet­eri­nar­i­ans, our pa­tients can’t tell us a lot.

They can’t say what they may have eaten, where they may have been, where it hurts, or even if it hurts at all.

That means mak­ing the di­ag­no­sis in­volves a lot more de­tec­tive work and is why vet­eri­nary medicine is quite sim­i­lar to CSI.

Like the team on CSI, we of­ten use di­ag­nos­tic tools and tests to help us un­cover the cause of a prob­lem. Not al­ways within the hour, as on TV, but of­ten sur­pris­ingly quickly.

Di­ag­nos­tic test­ing, whether it is blood tests, urine tests, X- rays, ul­tra­sound, bac­te­rial cul­tures or CT scans, can of­ten cost more than the ac­tual treat­ment for the prob­lem. But they are crit­i­cal. For ex­am­ple, my cat, Harry, who only the ‘‘What’s is 15, has only one eye and has been di­a­betic for a year, re­cently started to lose some weight.

I did rou­tine blood and urine tests, as well as spe­cial blood tests that went to an an­i­mal health lab, an ul­tra­sound, and fi­nally sur­gi­cal biop­sies of his in­testines and lymph nodes to try to find out what the prob­lem was.

The ini­tial list of causes was long, in­clud­ing can­cer.

But by do­ing the di­ag­nos­tic tests I have learned he has a type of in­flam­ma­tory bowel dis­ease that for­tu­nately can be treated.

The di­ag­nos­tic work cost more than $1000, but the treat­ment will only be about $200. Money well spent as far as I am con­cerned.

I of­ten tell my clients that vet­eri­nary medicine is like putting the pieces of a jig­saw puz­zle to­gether.

The ini­tial bits of in­for­ma­tion from the owner are the first pieces, of­ten form­ing the frame­work.

The phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion by the vet helps sort out a lot more of the main pic­ture.

How­ever, there can some­times still be a lot of blue sky and that is where the di­ag­nos­tic test­ing is so im­por­tant. The tests help fill in the gaps so the ac­tual pic­ture can be recog­nised.

Even if we don’t have ev­ery piece of the puz­zle, the more we have, the more likely we can lit­er­ally see what the over­all pic­ture is.

Some di­ag­nos­tic tests are very sim­ple and quick, such as a skin scrap­ing. Some are much more com­pli­cated, such as CT or MRI.

The choice of which tests are go­ing to be the best value in help­ing com­plete the pic­ture is where your vet­eri­nar­ian’s skill comes in.

To­gether with your vet­eri­nar­ian, you can de­cide the di­ag­nos­tic plan for your pet, as I did with my cat Harry, to try to give them the best treat­ment.

Dr Ian Schraa, an ex­pe­ri­enced vet­eri­nar­ian, owns Rap­paw Vet­eri­nary Care.

Spe­cial pa­tient: Harry, the one-eyed cat.

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