How do vets check for internal bleeding?

Answered by Jarrod Smith

Vets have several methods to check for internal bleeding in animals. One of the most common approaches is through a physical examination. During the examination, the vet will assess the animal’s vital signs, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, to look for any signs of shock or abnormality that could indicate internal bleeding.

In addition to the physical examination, vets may also perform diagnostic tests to further evaluate the animal’s condition. One common test is radiography, also known as X-rays. Radiographs can provide valuable information about the chest and abdominal cavities, allowing the vet to identify any abnormalities or signs of bleeding.

Ultrasonography is another tool that vets can use to check for internal bleeding. By using ultrasound waves, vets can visualize the abdominal organs and look for any signs of free fluid in the abdomen. This can be particularly useful in cases where there is suspected internal bleeding.

In some situations, vets may need to take more invasive measures to detect internal bleeding. They may use a needle to aspirate fluid from the abdominal or chest cavity. This fluid can be examined for the presence of blood, which would indicate internal bleeding.

Additionally, vets may perform blood tests to check for abnormalities in the animal’s blood clotting ability. If there is a clotting disorder, it could increase the risk of internal bleeding or make it more difficult for the blood to clot properly.

Personal experience: I once had a case where a dog came into the clinic after being hit by a car. The dog was showing signs of internal bleeding, such as pale gums and increased heart rate. After performing a physical examination and taking X-rays, we identified a fractured rib and suspected internal bleeding in the chest cavity.

To confirm the presence of internal bleeding, we decided to perform a thoracocentesis, which involved inserting a needle into the chest cavity to aspirate any fluid. We successfully retrieved a small amount of blood, confirming the presence of internal bleeding.

In this case, the combination of physical examination, radiography, and a thoracocentesis allowed us to diagnose and treat the internal bleeding promptly. It highlights the importance of using multiple diagnostic tools to ensure accurate and timely detection of internal bleeding in animals.

Vets have various methods to check for internal bleeding in animals. These include physical examinations, radiography, ultrasonography, and more invasive procedures such as needle aspirates. By utilizing these techniques, vets can diagnose internal bleeding and provide appropriate treatment to the affected animals.