We have a well-equipped laboratory on site at the Henley surgery, allowing us to analyse blood and urine samples rapidly. We get most test results through within 24 hours and many of them very much more quickly than that, particularly in an emergency when vital basic information can be extracted within less than twenty minutes.
We run pre-anaesthetic, health screening blood tests for many of the animals that we need to anaesthetise, especially the elderly ones. The fact that we can get results so quickly and, if all is well, proceed with premedication and anaesthesia the same morning saves the owner an additional visit. If all is not 100% well on the blood tests, we have the opportunity to phone the owner, discuss any increased risk this may pose and perhaps postpone a non-urgent procedure, until we have sorted out or stabilised the problem, or maybe alter our anaesthetic regime and add in pre-operative intravenous fluid therapy if that will mitigate the slight additional risks, or (rarely) cancel the procedure all together if the risks now outweigh the benefits. Either way, it makes for safer anaesthesia and better long term outcomes for the patient.
There are some specific blood and urine tests that our own laboratory can not handle and these are sent to an outside laboratory. We also use outside laboratories to confirm or clarify our own results if they are unclear or surprising!
In addition our microscope is in constant use examining urine and faecal samples and fine needle aspirates from skin tumours and other suspicious lumps. Again, we use outside laboratories for back up where necessary.
Histology, immunology, bacteriology and virology all require very specialist equipment and skills and so these samples are always referred to specialist outside laboratories.