What to Expect from an Internal Medicine Appointment at Upstate Veterinary Specialties

History Review IM Tech and DoctorInternal Medicine focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the internal organ systems, for example the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract or bone marrow.  Many of these diseases are not outwardly evident to pet owners, but if your primary veterinarian suspects their presence based on his or her physical examination or your pet’s lab results, your pet may be referred to UVS for an Internal Medicine Appointment.  At this appointment we will perform advanced diagnostic testing to better clarify the nature of your pet’s illness and then review the treatment options available to you.

Before entering the exam room for the appointment, the Internal Medicine doctor and technician at UVS review your pet’s medical records which your veterinarian has included with the referral form.  Similar to your routine veterinary appointments, the visit will start with a discussion with a veterinary technician.  The goal of the technician at this point is to review your pet’s medical history, daily habits and any symptoms they are exhibiting. Much is learned from the “history” or what you describe as normal day-to-day activity for your pet.  For an Internal Medicine Specialist, details are important, so the technician will normally ask in-depth questions about typical eating/drinking, elimination and activity habits.  The technician will then obtain your pet’s vital signs (temperature, heart and respiratory rate) prior to leaving the room to discuss the case with the Internist.

The Internal Medicine Specialist will then perform a full physical examination on your pet and may ask additional questions to get more information on the specific symptoms and outward signs.  Although this may seem repetitive, it is often informative to hear about the history with a different set of ears and clarify exactly what you are observing in your pet.  The focus of your appointment will be your pet’s medical history and the problems that led you to seek an Internal Medicine consultation.  The Internist pieces together different parts of the puzzle and forms an educated hypothesis of the cause of the pet’s outward signs.  Based on this hypothesis, the doctor will then suggest additional diagnostic tests (x-rays, ultrasounds, bloodwork) which will help them better understand the cause of your pet’s illness and design a targeted treatment plan.

IM Ultrasound consultationGenerally, most of the testing will be done during or immediately following the consultation appointment before the owner takes the pet home.  Some of the test results (i.e. ultrasound) will be available immediately, whereas others (i.e. bloodwork sent to an outside lab for special testing) may be available a few days later.  The Internist will discuss the preliminary test results with you at your appointment.  Based on your pet’s tentative diagnosis, she will also discuss the suggested course of treatment and/or additional recommended diagnostic procedures, if indicated. The doctor or technician will call you with any pending test results when they return.  If there is a change to your pet’s diagnosis or treatment plan based on these results, this will also be discussed at that time.

The act of referring a pet to a specialist is an important extension of general practice, and one that the veterinary specialists at UVS value.  In most cases, once an internist has been consulted and a diagnosis and treatment plan has been reached, the continued care of the pet returns to the family veterinarian with continued consultation with the internist, as needed.  Access to multiple specialists in one location is one of the unique features of veterinary care at Upstate Veterinary Specialties.