In today’s veterinary field, it’s common to recommend pre-operative blood work to all patients undergoing anesthesia. If this is for a routine procedure and the animal isn’t presenting any abnormal signs, this recommendation remains optional and the owners can decline the test. This test is used to rapidly screen the liver and kidneys, which excrete the medications used during surgical procedures, as well as check for anemia and any signs of an inflammatory process. Our pets are very good at hiding signs of discomfort and a seemingly healthy patient can actually be hiding a potentially dangerous condition.
Recently, our medical team was faced with such a situation. A roughly 6 year old female dog was brought in for a routine spay. Her owners hadn’t noticed any signs of illness or discomfort and her general behaviour was that of a healthy dog. The veterinarian’s clinical examination was all within normal limits. When presented with the option, her owners decided to have the preoperative blood work performed. The results came back with anomalies and the plan quickly changed.
Her renal parameters were abnormal and given the risks of anesthesia the surgery was cancelled and further testing was performed. It revealed the presence of a kidney infection, a condition which could have had dangerous complications if anesthesia had been performed.
Although pre-operative blood tests remain optional for most routine procedures, it is because of cases like this that the screening is strongly recommended.