After Hours Veterinary Emergency Clinic and Guilford College Animal Hospital

Cynicism: The Art and Science Behind the Veterinary Diagnostic Centesis

Posted on: March 3rd, 2015 No Comments

I love that my job comes with some surprises. Not the least of which involve fluids, and sometimes solids, forcefully erupting, and sometimes, launching like a volatile projectile from some sort of a lumenous or cystic structure. In some cases, the projectile gets Vegas odds. “Two feet,” one of my technicians shouts! “Six inches,” someone else declares. “Green, no grey,” I wager. A needle or simply a poke with a scalpel will determine the winner(s) of this ill-conceived wager. 


It’s not just my people who gamble in other’s suffering. Cynicism is what keeps people like us showing up to care for other’s lives. Several years ago I recall an event that had me a bit turned upside down, dysuria and a bit of a burning sensation when I urinated. I thought that I must have a UTI (urinary tract infection). As I drove towards the clinic to self-medicate with some antibiotics my wife urged me to call/see a “real doctor.” You see, to her I’m the same guy she married: an unemployed and overzealous twenty something year old guy who knows nothing about medicine, physiology, or “dysuria,” for that matter. In her mind’s eye, I needed an expert. 


Reluctantly, I called my brother (a real doctor). After hearing about my plight he quickly announced “Dudes don’t get UTI’s!! You need to go get checked out.” I, even more reluctantly agreed to go stop by the urgent care, it was kind of on the way to my office I convinced myself. What could it be, I thought. I arrive at the urgent care center and am seen quickly. They are about to close so a quick in-and-out was in order. The physician, knowing who I am because of my name (there aren’t many folks with my last name in the region outside of my father, mother, my wife, kids, and myself) proceeded to give me the low down on what we “should do” to rule out the common culprits. A quick swab of my falice and we could rule out a number of sexually transmitted diseases. I rather curtly announced that if I had a sexually transmitted disease then it meant that my wife was cheating on me and if that were the case, I didn’t want or need to find about it tonight. “Presuming that the swab is negative, what’s next,” I asked. 


After a quick urinalysis it was determined that I had blood (no shit? I thought) and some crystals in my urine. I was advised to see a urologist in the morning. Wow, all this for a little burning as I pee? Well I found out real quick what the problem was. As I peed into a strainer all night, catching the sharp edged beauties that popped out one by one, I could only hear my brother saying in the background “Dude’s don’t get UTI’s!” and for that matter my wife proclaiming “call a real doctor!” 


What does this have to do with the veterinary centesis; surprisingly, a lot. “You never know what you’re going to get?” rings true for many of the things that we open. Will it be a warble? Will it be purulent? What kind of distance will be achieved by the contents under pressure once pierced?” These are questions we ask with our four-legged patients every day. It just so happened that in this case I was the one pissing in the strainer with the loudest woof!

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