Our doctors at TDVG work hand in hand with specialized veterinary pathologists to determine and verify diagnosis through the careful examination of tissue and body fluids. Samples will be collected in the clinic and then sent to the reference laboratory for expert analysis. This allows our team to formulate and implement more effective treatment plans.
Cytology is the microscopic examination of cell samples. These samples can be collected from any area of the body. Cytology is often used to diagnose growths or masses (tumors) found on the surface of the body, but can also be used to assess bodily fluids, internal organs (e.g., liver, lung, lymph nodes, kidney), and abnormal fluids that may accumulate, especially in the chest and abdomen.
There are several ways to collect the cells depending on where the problem is and what type of tissue is involved.
- Most commonly, fine needle aspiration or fine needle biopsy is performed to collect cells. A sterile fine needle is inserted into the middle of the tissue or pocket of fluid and the plunger of the syringe is pulled back to create suction and withdraw or aspirate cells from solid tissue, such as a skin lump, or to collect fluid from a site, such as a joint
- Skin scraping. This technique pulls a few cells away from the surface of the skin which can then be examined.
- Impression smear. In this technique, a glass microscope slide is pressed firmly on an ulcerated lesion. This allows the surface materials to be collected and examined under a microscope.
- Cotton-tipped swabs. Cotton-tipped swabs are used to collect discharge and cells from moist skin surfaces such as the eye, nose, mouth, or vagina.
- Lavage. This technique is used to collect cells from internal surfaces such as the nasal cavity, trachea (windpipe), or lung. The fluid is flushed into the area and then suctioned back out. Cells are collected in the fluid and are examined under a microscope.
Histopathology is the examination of samples of whole tissues and is performed on a solid piece of tissue that has been collected surgically. Histopathology focuses on the architecture of the tissue and provides more information about the tissue than cytology.
With this type of laboratory examination, the accuracy of a diagnosis is usually high. The veterinary pathologist can often offer an opinion on the likely course of the disease, what is called the prognosis.
For more information about pathology tests, check out our pet health library!