Educational Articles

Diagnosis

  • Addison's disease (the common name for hypoadrenocorticism) is caused by a decreased production of two hormones from the adrenal gland. These hormones are cortisol, a stress hormone, and aldosterone, a mineralocorticoid hormone that regulates the body's water balance through its effects on sodium and potassium.

  • Antibodies are specialized proteins, also called immunoglobulins that are primarily found in the bloodstream. They are produced by specialized white blood cells called plasma cells, a form of lymphocyte.

  • The bile acid test is a very useful test that helps to determine if the liver is working properly.

  • Bone marrow is the soft material found in the central core of many bones. Bone marrow is vitally important for the production of blood cells, specifically red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Although many bones contain marrow, samples are collected from three main sites in cats and dogs: hip bone, top of thigh bone, or the forearm below the shoulder.

  • The first step in processing a blood sample is centrifugation. The blood is placed in a centrifuge, where it is spun in a small circle at high speed (much like a spinning ride at an amusement park).

  • Coagulation is the series of events that result in the formation of a clot. In the body, coagulation occurs after any injury to a blood vessel or tissue, in order to stop bleeding.

  • A Coombs' (or direct antiglobulin) test detects the presence of immunoglobulins (antibodies) on the surface of red blood cells. Immunoglobulins are proteins made by white blood cells (specifically plasma cells).

  • Cytology is the microscopic examination of cells that have been collected from the body. Cytology is most often used to diagnose the nature of lumps and bumps found on the surface of the body. However, cytology can also be used to evaluate internal organs, body fluids, effusions, and surfaces of the body. Different techniques are employed to collect cells depending on the type of sample needed. The next diagnostic step after cytology is histology.

  • Cytology is the microscopic examination of cells that have been collected from the body. There are different methods for collecting cells from body surfaces including skin scrapings, impression smears, swabs, and flushes. Once the cells are collected, they are examined under a microscope. Sometimes examination of surface cells does not provide a definitive diagnosis and additional samples must be collected.

  • Two tests use dexamethasone (a synthetic cortisol) for diagnosing Cushing's disease or Cushing's syndrome. They are the "LOW DOSE" and the "HIGH DOSE" dexamethasone suppression test.