Why does my animal need to see a board-certified small animal internist?

These specialists focus on diagnosing and treating diseases of the internal systems. Where the diagnosis is known, an internist may confirm the diagnosis and treatment, providing piece of mind. If a diagnosis is proving elusive or therapy is not proving effective, the Internist may be better able to find the diagnosis or adjust treatment plans to get your animal back to health. Examples of conditions for which your family veterinarian might refer your animal to an Internist are:

  • Anemia or other blood disorders
  • Chronic vomiting or diarrhea
  • Complicated pancreatic disease
  • Coughing & other breathing problems
  • Endocrine disease (adrenal tumors, complicated diabetes, thyroid disorders)
  • Infectious disease
  • Kidney or bladder disease
  • Liver inflammation
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Heart problems
  • Cancer

What is a veterinary specialist? How are they different from a family veterinarian?

In addition to completing undergraduate training and four years of veterinary school, Board-certified veterinary specialists are similar to their human medical counterparts in that they have completed an internship and residency in their specialized field (an additional 3-5 years training). In addition to this extensive training, a Board-certified veterinary specialist must pass rigorous examinations to achieve board certification from ACVIM. Specialists bring a greater understanding in the area of internal medicine, cardiology, oncology, or neurology, and have a greater knowledge of the unusual, the uncommon, or rare. In addition, a Specialist may have diagnostic equipment not generally used by your family veterinarian.

When should you request a referral to an ACVIM Board-certified Veterinary Specialist?

  • Your animal’s disease is uncommon, complicated, or undiagnosed after standard testing.
  • You would like an informed, neutral second opinion of your animal’s condition.
  • The outcomes of the current treatments are not going well or as expected.
  • Your animal requires a sophisticated procedure that is offered by a specialty hospital.
  • Your animal can benefit from 24-hour monitoring provided by a referral hospital.

What is endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows us to look inside your pet’s body. It uses an instrument called an endoscope. Endoscopes have a tiny camera attached to a long, thin tube. The doctor moves it through a body passageway or opening to see inside an organ. Along with providing a real-time visual image to the veterinarian, endoscopy allows for the extraction of small tissue samples for further diagnostic analysis or removal of foreign material. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia.

There are many different kinds of endoscopy. Procedures that we perform here include:

  • Bronchoscopy: lungs
  • Colonoscopy: large intestine
  • Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy: urinary system
  • Rhinoscopy: nasal passages
  • Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy: esophagus and stomach

Why might my veterinarian recommend an endoscopy for my pet?

There are a myriad of conditions which may require endoscopy for complete evaluation. Examples include:

Rhinoscopy (endoscopic evaluation of the nasal passages and sinuses)

  • Epistaxis (nose bleeds)
  • Inhalation of foreign material, such as plant material
  • Chronic nasal discharge, congestion, or sneezing

Bronchoscopy (endoscopic evaluation of the airways of the lungs)

  • Chronic coughing, wheezing, or other breathing problems
  • Inhalation of foreign material

Cystoscopy (endoscopic evaluation of the bladder)

  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Evaluation of tumors or polyps
  • Incontinence

Gastrointestinal endoscopy (evaluation of the upper and lower GI tract)

  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight loss or poor appetite
  • Removal of ingested foreign material (such as toys, fabric, rocks, etc.)
  • Unexplained gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Difficult or painful defecation

What is a CT scan?

A computerized tomography (CT) scan combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images, or slices, of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues inside your pet’s body. CT scan images provide more detailed information than plain X-rays do. A CT scan can be used to visualize nearly all parts of the body and is used to diagnose disease or injury as well as to plan medical, surgical or radiation treatment. Since any movement by the patient interferes with a successful scan, most patients require general anesthesia for this testing.