Animal Health Diagnostic Center

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Clinical Pathology


General Information

One of our goals is to supply you with the most accurate results in a timely fashion. You can help us accomplish this goal by correctly labeling submitted samples, storing them under conditions that optimize sample preservation and shipping them to us (under the best storage conditions) as soon as possible after collection.

AHDC Clients: Please see the AHDC shipping page for information how best to submit your samples for speedy and accurate processing. We have also provided some guidelines below that you may find useful.

CUHA Staff and Students: You will assist us in our ability to provide you with prompt accurate results by

  • Submitting samples as early in the day as possible (afternoons are often busy with the addition of requests from the AHDC).
  • Not batching samples (it takes us a while to accession these)
  • Correctly and clearly labeling your specimens (see SAMPLE LABELING below).

Also, there are some tests that require prompt handling of specimens as the analytes are unstable. These include cerebrospinal fluids, blood gases and ionized calcium.

Please note: There is no guarantee of same day results for specimens submitted after 4:00p.m. (3:00 p.m. for cytology) weekdays (unless the sample is STATed for an additional fee).

Sample labeling

It is imperative that all specimens are accurately and completely labeled. This will not only save time-it will prevent disastrous and costly mistakes (e.g. wrong results going to the wrong patient).

  • Each sample must be labeled with the patient identification (ID) number and the owner’s last name. This includes each slide submitted for that patient. For CUHA patients, the UVIS request number is not a replacement for the patient ID number and could very well be incorrect for that sample, so we recommend it is not included on the sample.
  • Cytology: Each cytology smear must be labeled with the patient ID number AND site (site very important when submitting multiple sites for review).
  • Fluids: Tubes containing anything other than whole blood also must be labeled with type of fluid submitted (including urines).

Other details that should be provided with each request:

  • History - History details are important for clinical pathology testing and are imperative for cytology. It is helpful for us to know differential diagnoses, if the patient is on any drugs that can interfere with test results (e.g. bromide will falsely increase chloride) or has a known disease that may help our assessment (e.g. if you tell us the dog has lymphoma, we are prewarned to look for circulating lymphoma cells in a blood smear). For cytology, the more information you provide the better, including pertinent signalment (age, breed, sex), clinical signs, any imaging (ultrasonographic or radiographic), a description of the aspirated site and differential diagnoses. For example, for a liver aspirate, it is great to know the animal has been vomiting for a week, but it would be very helpful to know why the liver was sampled. Was it enlarged? Were there single or multiple masses? Abnormal ultrasonographic appearance?

Other information about sample submission

  • Do not submit samples in gloves, baggies, etc. All urine and fecal samples should be submitted in rigid plastic containers, with a tight-fitting lid to prevent breakage or leakage.
  • Do not submit syringes with needles attached. Syringes for blood gases should be capped with a black rubber stopper. For all other fluid samples that are collected in a syringe, the samples should be transferred to an EDTA or red top tube (depending on the desired tests – EDTA is preferred for cytology whereas a red top is preferred for chemistry). If this is not possible, the needle should be removed and the syringe capped with a black rubber stopper.
  • Any sample that is taken from an animal with a known biohazard should be clearly identified as a biohazard such that we can take on additional precautions when handling the sample if necessary. Samples considered biohazards include those obtained from animals with suspected or known zoonotic diseases (e.g. Rabies or leptospirosis), animals with known or suspected multidrug resistant bacteria, and animals treated radioactive materials. Samples from animals treated with radioactive materials should also be labeled with the date and time of treatment. Submission of such samples should be 24 hours after treatment, if possible.