Cat Specialist Services veterinary investigations

Investigations

The following investigations may be recommended for your cat.

Laboratory testing

  • The majority of our laboratory testing is performed at a commercial veterinary laboratory (QML) offsite as this provides the highest quality of testing. Depending on the test, turnaround times are approximately 24-48 hours. If tests have a longer wait time we will advise you.
     
  • Some tests can be performed in the hospital and results obtained that day.
Laboratory testing at Cat Specialist Services

Ultrasound

  • Ultrasound can be used to evaluate the thorax and the abdomen and can provide  information about particular body systems such as the liver, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts.
     
  • Ultrasounds are typically performed with the cats sedated to help keep them still and reduce anxiety.
     
  • The fur over the region being scanned is clipped.
     
  • Although an ultrasound can give a large amount of information, additional testing such as biopsy maybe required to obtain a definitive diagnosis. These procedures are performed under heavy sedation or anaesthesia and we will always discuss the requirement for this with you prior to any procedure being performed.
     
  • There is often a large number of ultrasounds performed every day. We will contact you once the is ultrasound performed to discuss results, however this may be a few hours after admission.
     
  • For patients having repeat ultrasound we will aim to do this within the repeat consultation appointment, however this may not always be possible.
     
  • A written report of the ultrasound will be provided to your veterinarian.
Ultrasound at Cat Specialist Services
Ultrasound at Cat Specialist Services

Radiography (x-ray)

  • Radiography (x-ray) allows evaluation for respiratory, gastrointestinal or urinary tract abnormalities (e.g. kidney or bladder stones).
     
  • Radiography is performed with the patient sedated or under anaesthesia as it is important for us to keep our staff protected from exposure to x-rays.
     
  • For cats with breathing problems, performing investigations such as radiography can cause their breathing effort to deteriorate if they become distressed. We sometimes need to perform investigations very slowly to ensure that they do not become too anxious.
     
  • We will contact you once your cat has had their radiography performed to discuss results, however this may be a few hours after admission.
Radiography (x-ray) at Cat Specialist Services

Contrast tomography (CT)

  • CT is an advanced imaging tool that allows for incredible detailed studies of the nose, lungs, abdomen and musculoskeletal systems. It can also be used for evaluation of the brain and spinal cord, although typically high field MRI would be recommended for this (see below).
     
  • CT can be performed under anaesthesia or we may use a purpose built chamber that can be used to perform the CT without anaesthesia. CT performed without anaesthesia is only used in patients where anaesthesia poses a significant risk as the quality of the images may not be as good due to patient movement.
     
  • CT of the brain or spinal cord maybe recommended as CT scans are faster than MRI studies but they may not identify small abnormalities that would be seen with MRI.
     
  • All CT studies performed are submitted electronically to specialist radiologists for a report. These reports are received within 1-10 working days.
     
  • Our feline clinicians also give an initial report on the day of the procedure.
Contrast tomography (CT) at Cat Specialist Services

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

  • MRI is an advanced imaging tool that allows detailed pictures of the brain and spinal cord. It is typically used in patients with neurological symptoms.
     
  • All MRI scans are performed under general anaesthesia.
     
  • We are lucky enough to have access to two types of MRI: high field and low field.
     
  • High field MRI provides exceptionally detailed images, however cats must be transported to an external facility at the University of Queensland. Only patients that have a low anaesthesia risk can be examined at this location.
     
  • Low field MRI provides good detailed images, however they are not as clear as the high field MRI. The benefit of low field MRI is that it is onsite at our Underwood hospital and patients that have a higher risk of anaesthesia (e.g. those cats with obvious neurological signs) can have very close monitoring.
     
  • We will discuss the pros and cons of each option with you.
     
  • All MRI studies performed are submitted electronically to specialist radiologists for a report. These reports are received within 1-10 working days.
     
  • Our feline clinicians also give an initial report on the day of the procedure.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) at Cat Specialist Services

Cerebrospinal fluid testing

  • This test is performed in patients with a suspicion of neurological disease. It is used for identifying infectious brain diseases such as fungal disease (e.g. cryptococcus), viral disease (e.g. Feline Infectious Peritonitis), cancer (e.g. lymphoma) and meningitis.
     
  • A needle is passed into the fluid filled space around the spinal cord either at the top part of the neck (cisternal) or the lower spine (lumbar).
     
  • This procedure is typically performed following MRI or CT studies and is always performed under anaesthesia.
     
  • Once the fluid has been obtained it is sent to the laboratory for further testing. Results start to be received after 24 hours.
     
  • Overall risks of cerebrospinal fluid testing appear minimal in most cases. Patients with severe brain abnormalities or raised pressure within the brain appear to have the highest risk of complications. Complications may result in further deterioration of neurological signs after the procedure. If your feline clinician is worried about the risk, spinal fluid sampling may not be performed however this will be discussed with you at the time.
Cerebrospinal fluid testing at Cat Specialist Services

Rhinoscopy

  • Rhinoscopy is examination of the nasal passages using two speciali cameras: a rigid camera for insertion into the nasal passages and a flexible endoscopic camera for examination of the back of the nose and oral cavity.
     
  • Rhinoscopy is used to evaluate cats with sneezing, nasal discharge or changes to the structure of the bones of the face.
  • Rhinoscopy is important in the diagnosis of cats with nasal cancer, fungal disease, foreign bodies and chronic rhinitis.
     
  • Rhinoscopy is often combined with a CT scan of the nose as some areas of the nasal chambers and sinuses cannot be reached with the cameras.
     
  • All rhinoscopy is performed under anaesthesia.
     
  • Most patients will also have nasal biopsies obtained during the procedure and this can result in some bleeding from the nose.
     
  • Patients may be required to stay overnight in the hospital depending on the findings during rhinoscopy.
     
  • There is often a long list of patients requiring endoscopy on any given day. Typically we will send you an SMS to advise you of the time your cat will have their procedure and your feline clinician will contact you once we have performed the investigation.
Rhinoscopy at Cat Specialist Services

Bronchoscopy

  • Bronchoscopy is the use of a small flexible endoscopy camera to evaluate the large and lower airways of a cat. This procedure maybe recommended in cats with chronic cough and breathing abnormalities such as wheezing. It is often combined with a CT scan of the lungs.
     
  • All bronchoscopy studies are performed under anaesthesia.
     
  • Bronschoscopy is not without potential risk as frequently the investigation is being performed in cats with unhealthy airways.
  • Potential complications include leakage of air from the lungs into the chest cavity (pneumothorax), further deterioration in breathing effort or anaesthesia complications. Sometimes although bronchoscopy is the ideal test to obtain a definitive diagnosis, we may not recommend it as the risk maybe too great for your cat. We will always discuss this with you if we are worried.
     
  • Bronschoscopy is often combined with a bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). This is where sterile water is flushed into the lungs and then suctioned back up. We then look at the characteristics of the fluid and assess the different cells that are present, try and grow bacteria or other organisms and run various infectious disease tests on the fluid.
     
  • Patients will often stay in the hospital for the night after the bronchoscopy is performed to both continue monitoring of your cat's breathing effort and to start treatment.
Bronchoscopy at Cat Specialist Services

Gastrointestinal endoscopy and colonoscopy

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy is the use of flexible endoscopic cameras that are guided through the mouth, oesophagus, stomach and the top part of the small intestine. This is known as upper GI endoscopy. Colonoscopy is where the endoscopic cameras are passed up the colon to the junction of where the large intestine joins the small intestine.
     
  • Endoscopy and colonoscopy are typically performed in patients with chronic vomiting, weight loss, inappetence or where gastrointestinal abnormalities have been identified on imaging.
  • They can be very useful in the diagnosis of feline inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal lymphoma, polyps, gastrointestinal ulceration and other types of intestinal cancer.
     
  • Both upper GI endoscopy and colonoscopy must be performed under anaesthesia.
     
  • Upper GI endoscopy requires patients to be fasted for 12 hours. Colonoscopy requires fasting of the patient for 24 hours. This is to ensure the parts of the GI tract that are being examined are not full of digesta. For patients having colonoscopy, additional enemas maybe performed when the patient is under anaesthesia.
     
  • Endoscopy has the advantage of being minimally invasive, however biopsy samples are very small and some regions of the intestinal tract cannot be reached with cameras.  Additionally, some diseases only occur in the deeper layer of the intestines and these can only be diagnosed via surgical biopsies. We will discuss the advantages or disadvantages of each technique with you depending on your cat's combination of findings.
     
  • Biopsies obtained during the endoscopy are submitted to an external laboratory for processing and results take 3-5 working days to obtain.
     
  • Patients will normally be discharged the same day or the following day, depending on each case.
     
  • Your feline clinician will contact you to discuss the findings once the procedure is completed.
Gastrointestinal endoscopy and colonoscopy at Cat Specialist Services
Gastrointestinal endoscopy and colonoscopy at Cat Specialist Services

Thoracocentesis

  • Thoracocentesis is a procedure where a small needle is inserted into the chest cavity using ultrasound to guide the needle into the correct location. Thoracocentesis is performed when fluid is present within the chest cavity and as much fluid is removed as possible. 
  • This is typically seen in cats with breathing problems and maybe combined with ultrasound of the heart (echocardiography) and xrays or CT scanning.
     
  • Thoracocentesis is performed under sedation or under anaethesia. 
  • Once samples of the fluid are obtained these are typically submitted to a laboratory for further testing. 
Thoracocentesis at Cat Specialist Services

Fine needle aspiration

  • Sometimes enlarged lymph nodes, abnormal body organs or an abnormal mass lesions are identified during imaging and fine needle aspirate (FNA) are recommended to obtain cellular samples.
     
  • The patient is sedated or under anaesthesia, depending on the location of the abnormality.
     
  • A small needle is guided into place using ultrasound and samples obtained.
     
  • As the needle size is very small, the sample obtained is also very small and there are some diseases that can be difficult to diagnose using this method. Some diseases though such as lymphoma or certain types of infections can be easily diagnosed this way.
     
  • Results are typically obtained within 48 hours of submission of the sample to the laboratory.
Fine needle aspiration at Cat Specialist Services

Contact

Address 1-15 Lexington Rd,
Underwood, QLD, AU, 4119

Phone07 3841 7011

Veterinary Specialist Services