Laboratory Testing

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There are multiple laboratory tests than can be ordered for your horse.  Some tests can be run in-house at ECO, whereas others must be shipped to a specialized laboratory.

Complete Blood Count: ECO has an Abaxis Complete Blood Count (CBC) machine.  This machine allows us to analyze your horse’s red blood cell count, white blood cell count, white blood cell differential (what types of white blood cells), and platelet count.  It can tell us, therefore, if your horse is fighting an infection or is anemic.  Depending on the results, we may even be able to make an educated decision if your horse has a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.

Chemistry:  ECO has an Abaxis Serum Chemistry machine.  This machine analyzes a blood sample and can give us information regarding liver, kidney, bone, and muscle function as well as Total Protein and Albumin values.  It can also tell us if your horse is dehydrated.  It is important to know that your horse’s internal organs are functioning well, especially prior to anesthesia and treatment with certain medications.

I-STAT:  The I-Stat measures some electrolytes that are not part of a chemistry panel such as Sodium, Potassium, and Chloride. It is often used on horses that are being administered intravenous (IV) fluids. It has also been useful in cases of diarrhea and in determining if your horse needs IV fluids.

Fibrinogen: Fibrinogen is a protein produced by the horse’s body when there is significant inflammation, such as with an internal abscess.  In some cases an infection will cause the fibrinogen to rise without raising the white blood cell count, and so when we are suspicious of infection this is an important test to run.  We have an Abaxis fibrinogen machine allowing us same day results.

Serum Amyloid A:  StableLab is one of our newest diagnostic tools.  Using a blood sample, it monitors for the presence of Serum Amyloid A (SAA), a protein that is one of the first indicators to be produced in the response to infection.  In healthy horses SAA should not be present.  SAA can be elevated before a horse even shows signs of illness, making it a great screening tool for health in the performance horse.  The half-life of SAA (how long it circulates in the body) is 24 hours; this quality makes it an ideal factor to monitor in regards to the progression of disease and response to treatment.  Repeated screenings and changes in SAA levels during illness can help us be more confident in our therapy choices, when other diagnostics or treatments may be needed, and when to safely discontinue treatment.

IgG:  IgG is the immunoglobulin passed from mares to foals.  It is essential that foals receive adequate amounts of IgG within the first 24 hours of life because they cannot make any immunoglobulin themselves.  Foals should have this blood test between 12 and 24 hours of life, and we can have results the same day.

Lactate:  Lactate is the ionized form of lactic acid and is measured using a variety of bodily fluids.  It is produced in the muscles, red blood cells, and the gut.  It can be used as an indicator of the quality of perfusion (blood flow to organs) and oxygenation of body tissues.  Healthy horses should have a lactate level close to zero.  As lactate levels rise, it is an indication that tissues may be becoming compromised.  Some of the hardest decisions we have to make are steering clients in the right direction of treatment in stressful situations such as colic.  How do we know when to recommend surgery versus time and medical management?  Horses with high lactate levels are more likely to require hospitalization and surgery, and are less likely to survive without intervention.  Monitoring lactate levels over time of treatment can give us insight into the response to treatment, when to refer, or even help aid in the decision to give up.

Quantitative Fecal Analysis:  Parasitology is an ever changing field, and we work hard to utilize the best protocol for your horses.  The best tool for evaluating a horse’s parasite load is a quantitative fecal.  This means we count the number off parasite eggs in each gram of manure, giving us the most accurate measure of how heavily parasitized your horse is.  Once we have this number, we take into account your horses specific lifestyle and risk factors and come up with an individualized deworming protocol based on strategic deworming.