Family Pet Animal Hospital, Chicago, IL, USA; Associate Professor, Committee on Molecular Medicine, University of Chicago; Associate Professor (adjunct), Small Animal Medicine, The Ohio State University
Diagnostic tests are required to confirm the presence of many respiratory diseases in small animals. However, respiratory medicine is an underdeveloped subspecialty in veterinary medicine, and there are relatively few sophisticated tests that are available to the clinician that actually diagnose specific pulmonary disorders. Instead, most of the commonly available tests are best used to point us in the right direction, and to rule out the presence of other potentially confounding disorders. So for example, when an older patient has a new-onset cough, an abnormal chest radiograph can point us toward a diagnosis of pulmonary malignancy, heart failure, while a normal chest radiograph may suggest a diagnosis of a non-serious nature.
This manuscript will review the diagnostic tests that are available to evaluate small animals with signs of respiratory disease, including the advantages, disadvantages and current controversies regarding many of these tests used to evaluate pets with signs of pulmonary impairment. We will specifically focus on the tests that are practical and can be used by any veterinarian in small animal practice. Emphasis will be placed on physical examination techniques to determine if the disorder is in the upper airway, the lower airway or the lung. Movies will be shown so that the audience and the presenter can review the clinical signs of each patient at the same time.
Radiographs will be shown so that the audience can compare the physical examination findings of the patient with the associated changes x-ray changes in the same patient. Culture, cytology and biopsy skills will be reviewed and the value or lack of value of each of these techniques will be discussed as they related to the diagnosis and treatment of both dogs and cats with signs of respiratory impairment. Blood gas values and pulse oximetry will also be discussed in terms of the value of each test in our daily practice. Finally, movies of laryngoscopy, tracheoscopy and bronchoscopy will be shown to confirm each disorder that is being discussed.