Diagnostic Services

diagnostic servicesInternal Medicine

When your pet is not well, we need to find out what is wrong. After we perform a thorough examination, diagnostic tests are sometimes necessary in order to identify the medical condition. As part of our commitment to provide pets with the best possible care, Sachem Animal Hospital and Wellness Center has invested in the latest advanced diagnostic technology.

All the veterinarians at our Holbrook veterinary hospital are knowledgeable and have a large amount of expertise in diagnosing and treating complex internal medicine cases such as kidney, heart, respiratory, immune-mediated, and endocrine diseases.

Digital Radiology

Radiographs are one of the most important diagnostic tools in veterinary medicine. They allow us to examine your pet's bones, lungs, heart, abdomen, oral cavity and other areas of the body and are extremely helpful for diagnosing and monitoring many medical and surgical conditions. An X-ray can detect a fractured bone, tumor, or heart problem and locate an obstruction or foreign body in your pet's stomach or intestine.

Because we believe that pets throughout the Holbrook area deserve the best possible care, we have invested in a state-of-the-art, high-quality digital veterinary x-ray machine. With the availability of digital radiography, the veterinarians at Sachem Animal Hospital and Wellness Center are able to diagnose a very wide range of medical conditions with greatly increased speed and accuracy. We can quickly take highly detailed radiographs, manipulate them to gain a better view of your pet's bones and internal organs, and then display them on a computer for you to see.

The Advantages of Digital Radiology

  • Digital x-rays can be saved to a disk and given to you as part of your pet's home medical record.
  • Images can be quickly shared via email to specialists when a second opinion or additional diagnosis is needed.
  • Your pet's time on the X-ray table is reduced because fewer images need to be taken.
  • Digital X-rays eliminate the need to use toxic chemicals in the film development process, decreasing the risk of exposure to our staff and the environment.

UltrasoundUltrasound

Ultrasound is a pain-free, totally non-invasive technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce a real-time image of your pet's internal organs. Often considered more exact than radiographs (X-rays), ultrasound provides a movie of what is happening inside your pet's body.

Ultrasound is particularly useful in viewing your pet's abdominal organs and evaluating heart functions. Abdominal ultrasound allows us to fully examine your pet's liver, gallbladder, spleen, adrenal glands, pancreas, kidneys, urinary bladder, and parts of the stomach and intestines. Ultrasound also works well in conjunction with other diagnostic tools and a wide range of diagnostic procedures. For example, an X-ray of your pet's abdomen may show enlargement of the liver but does not tell us why it is enlarged. An ultrasound allows us to see the liver's structure in greater detail and identify specific lesions or masses.

Using the ultrasound image as a guide, Sachem Animal Hospital and Wellness Center's veterinarians can obtain biopsies without major surgery and your pet can often go home the same day. Ultrasounds are typically not stressful for your pet and take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to perform.

Endoscopy

Endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure commonly used to evaluate the interior surfaces of an organ by inserting a small tube into the body. In veterinary medicine, endoscopy is commonly used as a diagnostic procedure, for tissue and organ biopsies, to remove foreign objects (particularly in the stomach), or get an inside view of a particular part of a pet's body. Even though anesthesia is required to keep an animal still during the endoscopic procedure, the amount of anesthesia and recovery time is minimal. Endoscopy is often needed when routine blood and urine tests, radiographs, and ultrasound cannot give the complete diagnostic picture.

The instrument used for this procedure is called an endoscope. The endoscope is composed of a long tube (flexible or rigid), a light source, camera and viewing eyepiece. In addition to the fiber optic light source, there are two channels within the tube. One channel is for passing forceps, snares or biopsy instruments, allowing for the removal of foreign objects, collection of biopsy samples, and removal of small polyps or tumors. Air or water can be passed through the other channel for better viewing of the tissue or organ.

The benefits of endoscopy over exploratory surgery include no surgical incision, shortened anesthetic time, decreased inflammation, less physiologic stress and discomfort, and an earlier return to normal function for your pet. Below are more detailed descriptions of some of the endoscopic procedures performed at Sachem Animal Hospital and Wellness Center.

Veterinary EndoscopyGastrointestinal Endoscopy

Gastrointestinal means stomach and intestines, and gastrointestinal endoscopy is the endoscopic exploration of the organs that make up the digestive tract. The instrument used for this examination is a very flexible endoscope that is filled with tiny fiberoptic wires. A viewing device allows the surgeon to clearly view the procedure.

Animals have very long intestines and the scopes used for gastrointestinal procedures are 5-7 feet long. Using control knobs, the endoscope can be directed to a specific location. Different instruments can be passed through the scope, allowing for biopsy procedures and removal of foreign objects. In veterinary medicine, gastrointestinal endoscopy is most commonly used to remove fish hooks from animals' stomachs, bones from the intestines, perform cancer biopsies, and to diagnose inflammatory bowel disease, stomach ulcers and colon polyps. The endoscope can also be used to place long-term feeding tubes into the stomachs of animals that cannot eat.

Arthroscopy

Advances in human medicine and the interest in minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical techniques have led to the use of arthroscopy in veterinary medicine. Arthroscopy provides superior optical viewing through magnification and illumination of interior joint structures through an arthroscope. Arthroscopic examination is performed with the use of a rigid endoscope that has flexible fiber optic bundles and a light guided attachment. Many of the new endoscopes have been developed with smaller diameter arthroscopes, providing for veterinary applications while drastically improving direct visualization of joint structures.

Arthroscopic evaluation of joints has been utilized as an adjunct to clinical and radiographic examinations. Degenerative changes in joint structures can be examined directly with an arthroscope.

The elbow joint is perhaps the easiest joint for arthroscopic evaluation. Diagnostic procedures may be performed with minimal trauma to the joint and surrounding structures. Surgical correction of joint abnormalities can also be performed with less trauma. The shoulder joint is another area where arthroscopy is beneficial. Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is frequently diagnosed in large breed dogs. These lesions may not be evident on radiographic examination of the joint and can be diagnosed and surgically corrected through the use of arthroscopy. The knee joint is a common area for injuries and abnormalities. Cruciate ligament injuries can be readily diagnosed with arthroscopy.

Arthroscopy provides minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment with improved recovery time for your pet.

Bronchoscopy

Bronchoscopy is the use of an endoscope to examine the throat and large airways inside the lungs. The scope used for this procedure is a long flexible one, similar to that used for gastrointestinal endoscopy, but much smaller in diameter. The small diameter tubing allows for better penetration through the small passageways of the lungs.

Bronchoscopy is an excellent technique for diagnosing infections and performing bacterial cultures of the lungs. It is also very useful for diagnosing many types of lung cancers, inflammatory processes, as well as for removing foreign objects that have been inhaled into the lungs.

Rhinoscopy

Rhinoscopy is the exploration of the nasal passages and the back of the throat with a very small ridid endoscope. The scope used for this procedure is 1-2mm in diameter and 18 inches long. Using this instrument allows the veterinarian to explore the entire nasal passage of all dogs and most cats.

The nasal cavity contains multiple small passages which are often beds to infection and tumors. Rhinoscopy is not only the best way to look into the nasal passage, it is basically the only way. Through rhinoscopy, the veterinarian can take accurate biopsies, remove foreign objects, control bleeding from ruptured vessels, and perform many diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Cystoscopy

Cystoscopy is the exploration of the urinary bladder and its appendages using an endoscope. This is a revolutionary way of diagnosing many lower urinary problems such as bladder stones, inflammatory conditions and bladder cancer. Prior to the availability of cystoscopy, doctors were left with options such as surgery (not always desirable), x-rays (seldom diagnostic), and ultrasound (diagnostic, but not nearly as accurate or as precise as cystoscopy). Cystoscopy is the only method to accurately stage bladder cancer and to decide on the exact location for surgery.

Electrocardiographs

An electrocardiograph (ECG) is a snapshot of how your pet's heart functions. ECGs are very helpful at detecting numerous types of arrhythmias as well as a handful of other cardiac conditions that cannot be diagnosed with a stethoscope during a regular physical examination. You probably have seen an ECG machine or have had one done in your doctor's office as they are commonly used to test for common heart conditions in humans.

An ECG is a completely noninvasive, painless procedure that involves placing several electrodes on your pet's skin. The machine reads the electrical impulses coming from your pet's heart. The graph-like results produced by the ECG machine allow our veterinarians to diagnose numerous cardiac conditions. If we notice any abnormalities, we explain them and advise you on the next step.

Fiber Optic Videoscopic Ear Examination

An otoscopic examination of your pet's ears is an important part of your pet's regular wellness checkups. During your pet's lifetime, he or she may develop a number of painful and sometimes dangerous conditions in their ears. These can include ear mites, infections, wax balls, and any other indication of underlying problems in or around the ears. Because early detection and treatment of ear problems is important to preventing serious illness and hearing loss, your veterinarian will examine your pet's ears using an otoscope. With an otoscope, your veterinarian can check for signs of disease as well as injury to the ear canal and ear drum.

The otoscopic examination takes only a few moments and does not cause pain or discomfort to your pet. Once completed, we will discuss with you the health of your pet's ears as well as any treatment options if necessary. It is not uncommon for an ear infection's underlying cause to be undertreated, which can lead to chronic and painful infections, scaring of the ear canal, hearing loss and generalized systemic infections.

Symptoms of an ear problem include:

  • Head shaking
  • Foul odor
  • Redness or swelling around the ear
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Scratching or pawing at the ears
  • Ear pain
  • Excessive ear wax buildup
  • Loss of balance

LaboratoryIf your pet displays any of these symptoms, please call Sachem Animal Hospital and Wellness Center to set up an appointment. The sooner an ear problem is diagnosed and treated, the better the chance for a successful resolution.

Our In-House Laboratory

Performing preventative medicine as well as diagnosing emergent internal health issues requires the ability to perform a wide range of laboratory tests on blood, urine, feces, and biopsied tissue. Without timely access to precise laboratory test results — blood testing, biopsies, microscopic examinations, bacterial culture sensitivity, and more — it is difficult to make an accurate diagnosis or assessment of your pet's health. This is why Sachem Animal Hospital and Wellness Center maintains an advanced in-house laboratory and offers complete laboratory testing services for your pet. In many cases, our sophisticated equipment and diagnostic capabilities provide us with test results within minutes.

Laboratory testing allows our veterinarians to obtain additional information to assess your pet's overall systemic health without the need for invasive and expensive procedures. For example, diagnostic testing can detect heartworm disease, Lyme disease, infections, feline leukemia, intestinal parasites, urinary tract infections, and many additional diseases and conditions that can go unnoticed in their early stages. Early blood testing can show evidence of disease such as diabetes, changes in liver or kidney function, or simply provide a baseline for future reference. Diagnostic testing is also included in pre-anesthetic screenings prior to dental or surgical procedures that require general anesthesia. Annual wellness blood and urine tests, along with other diagnostics, assist us in the early detection of diseases and health conditions.