At St George’s Hospital, we have a superb team of qualified veterinary nurses and animal care assistants, who are dedicated to ensuring that your pet gets all the attention and treatment they need, that they are as comfortable as possible and that they feel loved while they are in our care.
We also have a range of state-of-the-art equipment, designed to help us determine the best course of action for each individual case.
Our well-equipped hospital laboratory means we can run many tests on our hospitalised patients to aid in their diagnosis.
These tests include general health profile blood tests, tests for lungworm, pancreatitis, Canine Parvovirus and the feline AIDS and Leukaemia viruses. In addition, we can also carry out urine testing and examine skin scrapes to check for the presence of skin parasites.
Our cutting edge laboratory equipment can deliver comprehensive blood test results within just 20 minutes. For more involved tests, we send samples to Nationwide Laboratories, which offers a full range of diagnostic tests.
How does an ultrasound examination help my pet?
We perform many ultrasound examinations every week. It’s a very useful test for determining why your pet may feel ill. The examination is extremely safe and painless and can usually be done without your pet being sedated. They just lie on their side on a comfy bed. It’s necessary to clip the hair around the area that requires scanning.
Ultrasound can show the source of the problem in many situations when an X-ray can’t. It can distinguish organs from fluid, which would look very similar on an X-ray, but cannot penetrate air or bones, which is where we would use an X-ray instead.
What sort of problems can an ultrasound test reveal?
If your pet is passing blood in their urine, an ultrasound may show bladder stones or a tumour to be the problem, for example. If a female animal is passing blood, it can show a womb infection.
If a pet has collapsed, an ultrasound scan can show bleeding and growths in the spleen.
If liver or kidney problems show up on a blood test (usually run because a pet is drinking more than normal), then ultrasound can help to show what sort of problem is present – issues such as kidney stones, growths, or an inflamed pancreas affecting the liver. We can see signs of kidney infection or signs that a stone is blocking the ureter coming out of the kidney.
Ultrasound can show changes in the guts, suggesting inflammatory bowel disease, and can show growths in the guts, and sometimes also shows swallowed foreign bodies like balls and socks.
What about heart problems?
Ultrasound is excellent for assessing the shape and size of the heart and the strength of the contractions. When dogs are coughing or collapsing, or when cats are struggling to breathe, it can help us see that the heart isn’t working as it should and guide us to the best treatment. We might scan your pet’s heart after hearing a murmur at their booster appointment, to check if everything is okay. Ultrasound can show when fluid is present in the chest too.
How else can ultrasound be used to help my pet?
We can use ultrasound to help us ‘see inside’ when we are taking biopsies or samples. So if there’s fluid present where there shouldn’t be, we can see the needle on the ultrasound screen and direct it to the fluid to take a sample. The same process is used to direct a biopsy needle to get a sample of a growth. This can help your pet by avoiding the need for an operation to get these biopsies and samples.
How does an X-ray help my pet?
X-ray provides a quick overview of an area of your pet’s body. It’s a very good test to help guide us in terms of what approach to take next. When symptoms may not very clearly point us to the source of the problem, an X-ray overview of the affected part of your pet’s body can highlight the problem.
X-ray is also very good for giving us information on the nature of an injury, such as a broken leg in a dog or fractured pelvis in a cat after being hit by a car.
Our digital X-ray system delivers superior images compared with conventional X-ray. It allows us to look in detail and magnify areas of interest easily. The technology used enables the X-ray image to be stored in your pet’s clinical notes and be accessible at all branch surgeries, or to be emailed to a specialist radiologist for further assessment if needed.
What sort of problems can an X-ray reveal?
X-rays are great for looking at bones – broken ones, arthritis and other bone diseases like cancer.
The lungs also show up really well on X-ray and we can see changes suggestive of lungworm, old age change, inflamed airways (bronchitis) and asthma in cats, for example.
X-ray is our test of choice when there is a suspicion that a naughty Labrador has eaten a sock, or a toy, or some pants, or some stones, or anything else they seem to want to eat! (We love Labs and quite a few of our staff have them as pets, so no offence intended – but we all know what they’re like…)
X-rays are also handy for examining a rabbit’s molar teeth and to check for bloat when a very poorly rabbit comes to us.
How else can X-rays be used to help my pet?
We use X-rays to check the position of pins and plates and screws after repairing broken bones, or to check the position of the titanium implants we use for cruciate ligament surgery.
They can also be used to monitor improvement in your pet – for example, to check bone healing or the progress of lung performance a few weeks after starting a treatment.
We can also use X-ray to survey for the spread of cancer.
How does an X-ray help my pet?
We are one of very few practices in the West Midlands that can offer digital dental X-ray. Over half of any tooth is hidden under the gum and cannot be visualised without an X-ray. Without an X-ray, a lesion could easily be missed, which could be causing your pet a great deal of pain.
A special dental X-ray is needed so that a dental plate can comfortably fit in your pet’s mouth – whether we’re dealing with a Great Dane or a guinea pig.
Digital dental X-ray gives instant, crisper pictures, which is crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment for your pet.
The most common cases in which a digital dental X-ray would be helpful are:
What is an endoscope?
An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible or rigid tube that we can use to see inside your pet’s body. We have a selection of different sizes and types. Each tube has a tiny built-in light and camera and your vet can see the images on a screen while performing the procedure. These images can be saved for us to re-examine at a later date and can also be sent to a specialist if needed. The images will be saved onto your pet’s records and we can show them to you if you’d like.
What is endoscopy commonly used for?
The most common reason for us to use our endoscope is to examine the inside of your pet’s digestive tract.
The endoscope can be passed into your anaesthetised pet’s mouth, along their oesophagus and into the stomach. In some animals, we’re able to pass the endoscope through the pyloric sphincter into the intestinal tract. This is useful to check for ingested foreign bodies, which we can try and remove using special grabbing forceps. We can examine the oesophagus to check for conditions such as ulceration, strictures and megaoesophagus. We can also check for stomach ulcers and growths. We have special equipment that enables us to take biopsies of the wall of the gastric intestinal tract if we feel this will help our diagnosis.
We can use the endoscope to check your pet’s colon if they’re having problems such as ongoing diarrhoea or blood in their faeces. In this case, we have to pass the endoscope via their rectum. We can also use an endoscope to view the inside of the bladder in a female dog.
We often use endoscopes to examine the respiratory tract if your pet is suffering from a cough or nasal bleeding or discharge. Again, biopsies can be taken if necessary.
How will you prepare my pet for endoscopy?
Your pet will need to be under anaesthesia for an endoscopy to be performed. For gastrointestinal endoscopy, your pet will need to be fasted for 12 hours prior to upper gastrointestinal studies and 48 hours if we are performing a colonoscopy. We perform an enema on dogs, which require a colonoscopy the evening prior to their procedure.