Laboratory Assessment of the Bleeding Exotic Animal Patient

Key Points

  • Before a blood sample is collected, carefully weigh the risk to the exotic animal patient against the clinical value of the test results. What will you do with this information? How will it affect your clinical plan?
  • EDTA is the most commonly used anticoagulant in small mammals; lithium heparin is commonly used in birds and reptiles.
  • Whenever possible, make a blood film immediately after venipuncture using fresh blood free of anticoagulant.
  • Most adult small mammal hematocrits range from 30-55%; ferrets generally have packed cell volumes (PCV) that exceed 40-45%. Healthy birds generally have PCV values that range between 35% and 55%. PCV in reptiles often ranges from 20% to 45%.
  • The presence of nucleated erythrocytes and thrombocytes in birds and reptiles interferes with the ability of automated cell counters to separate blood cell populations, therefore manual blood cell counts are necessary.
  • The extrinsic coagulation pathway is much more significant in birds and reptiles.
  • Evaluation of coagulation is in its infancy in birds and reptiles, however prothrombin time and activated clotting time have potential as screening tests.

 

Hemorrhage in the critical patient can occur from a number of reasons. Before a blood sample is collected, carefully weigh the risk to the exotic animal patient against the clinical value of the test results. What will you do with this information? How will it affect your clinical plan? EDTA is the most commonly used anticoagulant in small mammals; lithium heparin is commonly used in birds and reptiles. Whenever possible, make a blood film immediately after venipuncture using fresh blood free of anticoagulant. Most adult small mammal hematocrits range from . . .


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