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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Needle Biopsies

This month I'm going to spend a little time explaining one of the more common and simple tests that your dog may need at some point in his or her life. This is one of my favorite tests to perform as it is quick, easy, and and give us important information!

A fine needle aspirate or FNA is also known as a needle biopsy. This is a simple procedure that is no more painful to your pet than giving a vaccination or other injection. The procedure involves placing a small needle into a tumor or mass on, in, or under your pet’s skin. Cells or other material are then removed from the mass with the needle and placed on a slide. The slide is then stained and the material evaluated under a microscope. There may be a small amount of bleeding or oozing from the puncture site, but no other side effects are typical.
This is a simple, nearly painless, cost effective procedure that can help us identify many abnormal structures on your pet. If a benign mass such as a cyst, lipoma, or histiocytoma is identified then you and your pet will be able to avoid a more expensive and more painful surgery. If a more serious mass such as a mast cell tumor or melanoma are identified then we know we need to schedule a surgery right away. Sometimes we get a sample that is difficult to interpret or has unusual characteristics and we send the slide to a certified pathologist to help us find out what is going on with your pet so we know the next step in treatment.
This test is also very quick and can be performed in the clinic laboratory so you will know the results before you leave!

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