Idiopathic Issues

Don't be Fooled, Vet Student!

Posted by Cari Wise on April 1, 2016 at 10:56 AM

By now you have probably figured out that veterinary medicine is a combination of medical science and detective work!   With experience, your ability to diagnose based on clinical signs, presenting complaints, and owner information alone will improve.  

But don't be fooled, Vet Student!  Below are two examples of medical conditions that can be misdiagnosed if diagnostic work-ups are skipped and the "likely choices" are assumed!

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Topics: Career, Differentials, Communication, Toxicity, Vet Student, Client Situations

A Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) Overview

Posted by Jessica Gramlich on September 14, 2015 at 3:41 PM

A common misconception about veterinary professionals is that we play with puppies and kittens all day.  The reality is that very little of our time is spent snuggling adorable little pets.  However, you will have those awesome appointments when you get to meet a family’s recently adopted kitten.

It’s usually a long appointment discussing feeding, handling, litter box care, parasite prevention, spaying or neutering, and vaccination schedules.  Typically it ends with ridiculous amounts of baby talk and playing with the kitten. Imagine the horror when 4 weeks later, instead of coming in for a vaccination booster, the kitten presents with a decreased appetite, increased respiratory effort, abdominal fluid and a fever.  

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Topics: Differentials, FIP

Zebras are Everywhere

Posted by Jessica Gramlich on August 17, 2015 at 3:08 PM
There is a saying in veterinary medicine, when you hear hooves, think horses not zebras. It’s so clever. The whole point is that common things are common and they should be first on your list of differentials. When you are a student and you have just finished learning about all kinds of cool diseases it is easy to come up with a really rare differential. It’s hard to know what is typical and what is unusual because you haven’t seen a lot of patients yet. During my internship some of my differentials were so outlandish that they would actually be laughed at during rounds. That coughing dog in Ontario could have Spirocercosis but without a travel history that is pretty unlikely.

It is extremely important to keep an open mind. It is easy when you have been practicing for a long time to get caught in a trap of the same old same old. Well, that looks like a really bad case of superficial pyoderma. Here are some antibiotics and steroids. Oh whoops, it’s cutaneous lymphoma or MRSA or scabies! The list goes on. It’s important not to pigeon-hole yourself into a one track mind. Yes, if you live in the northeast like I do, that febrile, painful dog probably has lyme disease, but is it the only possibility? No, turns out that poor dog could have discospondylitis or neoplasia or trauma.
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Topics: Differentials

Should I study for boards in the summer?

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