Pre-anaesthetic test detects Archie's unknown problem

Despite regular care at home, our nurse Michelle's little friend Archie was starting to develop some tartar on his teeth. Keen to clean up those teeth and improve his breath before the dental disease caused permanent damage, Michelle booked Archie in for a dental prophylaxis (a scale and polish treatment done under anaesthetic). Prior to any procedures or surgeries performed under anaesthetic, we highly recommend a pre-anaesthetic blood test to ensure there are no abnormalities within the patient's organs that may increase the risk of anaesthetic. A blood sample was collected from Archie and sent to the laboratory. Archie's blood test results came back with an interesting change.

Although he had been fasted overnight, there were lots of fat droplets in Archie's blood. This is often an early indication of metabolic or hormonal diseases such as diabetes or underactive thyroid glands, which alter the digestion and processing of dietary fat. After running some additional tests we diagnosed Archie with 'Cushing's disease', also known as Pituitary Dependent Hyperadrenocorticism.

Cushing's disease occurs when some overactive cells in the pituitary gland (in the brain) stimulate production of excessive levels of cortisone. It is a slowly progressive disease with common symptoms including increased appetite (Archie had changed from being a very fussy little guy to a keen eater), increased thirst, loss of muscle tone causing a pot belly appearance or more prominant spine, and puffing and reduced exercise tolerance. It causes an increased risk of secondary diseases including infections (particularly skin and bladder), insulin-dependent diabetes, bladder stones, pancreatitis and strokes. Although a very slow disease to progress, implementing treatment once diagnosed will greatly improve the quality of life of the patient and reduce risks of secondary problems.

Archie has started on a once daily capsule medication. He is already doing better on his walks. The following week Archie would have another blood test to ensure the dose is suitable for him and that his test results have returned to normal. Once the Cushing's disease is under control Archie will have his teeth cleaned, then he'll feel brand new! We will keep you posted on his progress!

Archie's case informs us that it is important to have a pre-anaesthetic blood test prior to a surgery or procedure (eg. sterilisation, dental) requiring the patients to be under anaesthetic. Although the test is optional, we highly recommend the test to ensure your pet is not at any risk of the anaesthetic and to inform us of any abnormalities with your pet's internal organs, like Archie's Cushing disease. The blood results also helps the anaesthetist determine whether modification of the anaesthetic is required or recommend fluid therapy during the procedure.