The Importance of Preanesthetic Testing (It’s all about safety.)

Although anesthesia and surgery today are very safe, some risks still exist. By performing a physical examination and conducting some simple tests before putting your pet under anesthesia, your veterinarian can lessen those risks even further.

Our pets cannot tell us when they are not feeling well. In many cases, we find out something is wrong through diagnostic testing. A pet that appears healthy, may in fact, be hiding symptoms of a disease or ailment. If something is wrong, then your doctor wants to know before a surgery procedure is done. It is then, that steps can be taken to reduce potential complications before they arise. The anesthetic procedures can be adjusted, or treatment for the medical condition can be addressed before the surgery to make sure that your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia.

Preanesthetic testing may uncover a pre-existing condition that may pose a significant health risk to your pet such as heart, liver or kidney problems, or diseases such as diabetes or cancer. Testing may also determine if your pet has a clotting abnormality that could cause a problem during surgery. These tests also provide a baseline level for you pet and become part of his or her medical record for future reference.

A CBC, or complete blood count, analyzes the number, type, and in some cases, shape of the different blood cells in your pet’s body: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The CBC provides important information about your pet’s general health. This test can detect such medical conditions as anemia, leukemia, inflammation, infection, and bleeding disorders.

A chemistry profile contains tests for multiple chemical components in the blood’s serum. The typical preanesthetic chemistry profile checks levels of many of the chemicals in your pet’s body.

So what does it all mean?
Albumin (ALB)– A protein that is produced by the liver. Reduced levels of this protein can point to chronic liver, kidney or intestinal disease.
Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)– An enzyme that becomes elevated with liver disease or injury.
Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP)– An enzyme present in multiple tissues including liver and bone. Elevated levels can indicate liver disease, Cushing’s syndrome or steroid therapy.
Amylase (AMYL)– An enzyme produced by the pancreas. The pancreas secretes amylase to aid in digestion. Elevated blood levels can indicate pancreatic disease.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)– BUN is produced by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Abnormally high levels can indicate kidney disease or dehydration, and low levels can be associated with liver disease.
Calcium (Ca2+)-Increased levels can be seen with disease of the parathyroid gland and the kidneys, or as an indicator of certain types of tumors.
Cholesterol (CHOL)-Elevated levels of cholesterol are seen in a variety of disorders, including hypothyroidism, and liver or kidney disease.
Creatinine (CREA)– Creatinine is a by-product of muscle metabolism and is excreted by the kidneys. Elevated levels can indicate kidney disease, urinary tract obstruction or dehydration.
Blood Glucose (GLU)– High levels can indicate diabetes. Low levels can indicate liver disease, infection, or certain tumors.
Phosphorus (PHOS)– Elevated phosphorus can be an indicator of kidney disease.
Total Bilirubin (TBIL)– Bilirubin is a breakdown product of hemoglobin, as well as a component of bile. Blood bilirubin levels are useful in indicating liver disease and possibly help characterize anemia.
Total Protein (TP)– The level of TP can indicate a variety of conditions, including dehydration and diseases of the liver, kidney, or intestine.

Please note that additional tests may be suggested depending on the age, breed, and species of your pet. By screening for any pre-existing condition, we can further reduce the risk of complications, which in turn, provides peace of mind for the safety of your beloved pet.
Information for this article provided by ANTECH Diagnostics and IDEXX Laboratories.