Internal medicine assists in determining which disease is ailing your pet
One of the biggest difficulties of veterinary medicine is that our pets are unable to speak and tell us what is bothering them. Sometimes the answer is found on tests that your local vet can perform. Other times, the answer is not so obvious, even with many tests.
The internal medicine service at SASH specialises in diagnosing what disease is ailing your pet, especially those that are challenging to figure out. Our common patients include those who are sick, but “all the tests came back normal”, or those who have multiple different diseases, but unsure which is actually causing the problem.
Our team includes experienced nurses and medicine specialists with training and knowledge from around the world. We all work together to provide your pet with the best care possible. It is common for our team to have daily meetings (rounds) to discuss our patients so that you may have 5 specialist trained brains thinking about your pet!
We also will work closely with other departments in our hospital (surgery, neurology, cardiology, ophthalmology, dermatology, oncology) should your pet have multiple conditions and strive to seek the best care for your pet at all times.
About the Internal Medicine service
In the Internal Medicine team at SASH, we are fortunate to have a large and diverse team of specialist veterinarians, with a combined total of over a century of clinical experience. We specialise in diagnosing diseases, particularly those that are challenging to identify and those for which advanced testing may be required. Our patients include pets who are unwell but for whom “all the tests came back normal”, or pets with more than one disease, whose test results are difficult to interpret. We also see patients whose diagnosis is suspected but hard to confirm, or those whose disease is known but is challenging to manage.
We know that families come to us because they love their pet and want them to live their best life. Using our expertise and state-of-the-art facilities, we do everything we can to help families achieve this goal.
Our team includes experienced nurses and medicine specialists with training and qualifications from around the world. Depending on the needs of the pet, we consult with fellow team members and specialists from other departments at SASH, such as Cardiology, Neurology and the Animal Cancer Centre. As a result, it is not uncommon for several specialists in the SASH ‘family’ to be involved in the care of an individual patient. This collaborative, integrated approach ensures that our patients receive the same level of care that families would expect for themselves and their loved ones in the human health care system.
Our Internal Medicine team members are also recognised throughout Australia and overseas. We often collaborate with our global specialist networks to discuss the latest advances in veterinary medicine. Our team is proud and grateful to be able to work in this highly co-operative way as it helps us to fulfil our purpose to provide world class patient care.
Diagnostic and treatment services provided by the Internal Medicine service
We have a vast array of diagnostic techniques at our fingertips to investigate and identify diseases. These include:
- Endoscopy (video scoping of the gut, nose, lungs, urinary and genital tracts) with minimally invasive tissue sampling (biopsy) techniques
- Bone marrow collection
- Joint fluid sampling
- Spinal fluid collection
- Digital radiography (X-rays)
- Ultrasound performed by specialist radiologists
- Advanced imaging (CT and MRI), reviewed by our specialist radiologists
- Fluoroscopy (X-ray with moving images)
- Echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart, in combination with our cardiology service)
- Blood and urine testing
We also offer a comprehensive range of in-patient treatment services, including:
- conventional supportive therapy such intravenous fluids,
- blood transfusions from the SASH Blood Bank, thanks to our kind clients and their dogs and cats on our donor list
- highly innovative and specialised medical interventions such as Australia’s first veterinary dialysis service (for patients with acute kidney disease), therapeutic plasma exchange (cleansing of the blood for patients with certain immune diseases) and procedures that spare patients having to go to surgery (e.g., non-surgical bladder stone treatment, or lithotripsy).
For patients with complex needs, we also have a 24 hour on-site intensive care unit and critical care service, supported by dedicated specialist and nursing teams.
This advanced, human grade suite of services allows us to offer everything a patient might need in the one caring and supportive environment. With further advances in veterinary medicine, we will continue to develop our services, so that our patients always have access to the latest in veterinary care.
What happens when a pet comes to SASH internal medicine?
From the time that families first make an appointment with us, our priority is to ensure they feel welcome and supported. In the initial consultation, we talk to families about the journey they have been on so far and their concerns and goals for their pet. Often, we will have received a lot of information from the referring veterinarian and will have studied this closely to develop a picture of what is going on. We also examine each patient thoroughly, so we have an accurate understanding of their physical condition at the time of referral, noting that this can change over time.
Will pets need to undergo further testing?
Sometimes an internal medicine specialist can determine a treatment plan based on a consultation and physical examination alone, without any additional tests. In more complex cases, further investigation may be recommended. Thanks to our advanced suite of diagnostic facilities, this can usually be done in house, allowing us to obtain results quickly with minimal fuss for patients and their families.
How are owners kept informed?
In all cases, we thoroughly discuss with families the benefits and risks of any diagnostic and treatment options we recommend. We know that each patient experiences ill health differently and that each family’s circumstances are unique. We seek to empower families to make informed decisions, secure in the knowledge that they will be fully supported at every step. We also recognise that sometimes, even with all the tests in the world, it may not be possible to get a clear diagnosis. However, with our experience in caring for these difficult cases, we can discuss with families the most suitable approaches to management.
How are referring vets kept informed?
Throughout a pet’s care at SASH, we remain in regular contact with the referring veterinarian to keep them informed of the patient’s progress. When a pet goes home, we provide detailed information to help their local veterinarian assist as needed with follow-up monitoring and treatment. We believe this shared approach to care is essential for best meeting the needs of patients and the people who love and care for them.