Monday, December 1, 2014

Big Boy Toys

Nothing motivates like a new toy. To most guys it is usually a piece of woodworking equipment, a gun, maybe a new horse, four wheeler, etc. I suppose I must be a kind of "geek", and even considered a bit odd, because this year I purchased a couple of real cool toys (cool, to me anyway!)
Early in the year I bought a Blood Machine! exciting, right? Well, maybe when I explain all the things it can do to help you and me when illness strikes, you will be more excited.
Up until this year, when a sick horse would come to the clinic, and needed some blood work done, I would draw the sample and either take it to the local hospital, or send it out to California to a reference laboratory. This would take overnight at best, and sometimes days. With this new "toy" I can have results of blood tests in minutes, before you leave the clinic. This is a great advantage for you because we can know immediately how serious the illness may be, and therefore gauge our treatment accordingly. Otherwise, we would start on a treatment course, and "wait and see" what kind of response to the treatment we observed while waiting for the blood test results. Having the blood test results immediately can be absolutely life saving in many cases. We can have a wealth of information right at our finger tips immediately to guide our treatment. With this information, we can also give you a more accurate prognosis for treatment success.
This machine gives us the following parameters:
1. Red Blood cell count. This is important for diagnosing anemias, chronic long standing conditions and general condition of the hematopoetic (blood producing) system of the body.
2. White Blood cell count. This count will tell us how the body is responding to infection. Either an extremely high or low white cell count is not good. As we monitor this count we can also track how the body is doing as it fights disease and infection.
3. Hematocrit. This is a ratio between the blood cells and the liquid part of the blood. It is expressed a a percentage. Again, a really high or low percentage is bad. It can give us a picture of the hydration status of the horse, (and other animals as well) and it is a good prognosticator (a number that can give us the odds of recovery)
4. Liver enzymes, Kidney function tests, and blood glucose and protein levels. These are tests that give us a wealth of information, and many times give us a diagnosis of the disease. These can also be used to monitor the progress during illness.
5. Fibrinogen and SAA tests. These two are tests that detect inflammation in the body. These are blood proteins that are produced in the body in response to any inflammatory process. Fibrinogen is slower in response to inflammation, but is an invaluable test when the diagnosis is not obvious. SAA is a much more sensitive test, and will rise or fall quickly with the increase or decrease in systemic inflammation in the body. It can even be used for detecting overtraining in an intensely worked horse. With high levels of these proteins, we can know that we have a high degree of inflammation. When they drop, we know that the horse may be recovering and treatment is effective.

My other new toy is a "Cuattro" digital radiographic system. I have had DR (digital radiography) for the past 6 years. At that time, I purchased the best machine then on the market. But, as with all technology, things rapidly and considerably improve in just a few years. This new X-ray machine is another leap ahead in the ability to diagnose accurately. It has revolutionized what we can see and diagnose when compared with my old DR machine, CR (computed radiography) and the old film radiographs.

I was attending a Podiatry (foot and lameness) seminar in Norfolk Virginia in September. I was walking out of one of the meeting rooms, saw this machine on display, looked at the clarity and definition, and thought, "I've got to have that!" It is cordless, with allows us to work faster, easier, with less distraction to the horse. In the old days we would charge for X-rays by each view taken. Now with these new machines, we can take more X-rays, in less time, with less effort. What that means to you is that you get much more for your money. We now charge by the "study". This means that if we take 4 X-rays, or 10 X-rays, the cost is the same. Because the per picture cost is less. And we usually end up taking more X-rays which enables a more complete, thorough evaluation and diagnosis.

That meeting was a double bonus. Learning more about feet and lameness problems, and coming home with the best way to diagnose them accurately.

If you're having any lameness, or illness issues with your horses, lets get together and have some success in treating the problems and getting you back (or keeping you) in the saddle.

Thanks for reading.


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