How Much Testing Should You Do Before Jumping to Surgery?

How Much Testing Should You Do Before Jumping to Surgery?

When something serious enough to warrant surgical intervention occurs, there will often be several tests required first to ensure surgery is the next and most appropriate option.

Often times, the diagnostic testing for “hidden causes” can be as much as. or more than the cost of the surgery itself.

The most common “hidden” ailments that can trigger a sudden surgery are an impacted foreign body (toys, string, metal, bone lodged in the bowels or intestinal tract) and a ruptured tumour or internal organ.

When presented with the above issues, generally bloodwork and x-rays will be performed first.

The blood profile will be used for two main purposes. One is to try and pinpoint the general cause of the ailment. When certain organs are involved, they each leave unique markers in the bloodstream. Other indicators such as clotting ability, anemia and infection also help narrow down the cause and organs affected. The second purpose of a bloodwork profile is to evaluate the condition of the pet overall in regards to being able to “pull thru” the surgical procedure.

Quite often these tests take time and may waste precious time allowing the pets’ health to deteriorate further.

Radiographs, or X-rays, do not always give a clear image of what is going on in the body. Some foreign ingested items are not readily identifiable even when using new digital processing equipment. This often leads to a procedure called a barium series. This is a set of x-rays taken at timed intervals after the animal has been given barium to highlight the digestive system. The barium should continue to pass thru the system unhindered. Blockages and unusual items lodged in the system will be highlighted thus confirming the condition.

A complete blood profile will cost, on average, $125 to $225. Regular x-rays run approximately $250 to $450. A  Barium series x-ray set will cost anywhere from $350 to $600.

As you can see, the diagnostics can cost upwards of $1000 before the necessary medical intervention has begun. Intravenous fluids, a comprehensive examination, medication and hospitalization are also not yet factored in.

If the above diagnostics do not offer enough concrete information, an ultrasound or MRI may also be recommended. Again, more testing that will run anywhere between $400 and $2400.

Performing a laparotomy somewhere in this mix will probably be the most appropriate option. This procedure involves entering the abdominal cavity and physically examining the internal organs, searching for damage or bleeding and palpating the intestines and bowels. Once inside, surgical repair can begin, or indicate whether the issue can be resolved.

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