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Critical Care

Critical Care

Veterinary critical care specializes in critically ill pets as well as patients experiencing life-threatening emergencies.

Our critical care team is trained in veterinary emergency and critical care and provides care for the most severe, life-threatening traumas or diseases. Our primary goal is to provide rapid and efficient stabilization, treatment and diagnostics.

Patients hospitalized in the intensive care unit (ICU) receive 24-hour monitoring and care. The ICU is fully equipped with:

  • Continuous EKG monitoring using remote telemetry
  • Oxygen therapy—oxygen cages, nasal oxygen lines
  • High flow oxygen
  • Blood pressure monitors
  • Pulse oximetry
  • Rapid diagnostic testing including blood gas and electrolytes
  • Extensive in-house blood bank for the treatment of life-threatening blood loss or anemia
  • Short-term mechanical ventilation
  • Hemodialysis and extracorporeal therapies
  • 24-hour access to lab equipment and diagnostic imaging (X-rays, ultrasound, CT)

Our team provides continued management of critically hospitalized patients and commonly collaborates with specialists from other services including Internal Medicine, Surgery, Cardiology and Neurology.  This allows our patients to obtain well rounded patient care and management.

We hope that your pet will never need the help of our criticalists, but if they do, we will be ready to address any serious, life-threatening problems.

Hemodialysis and Extracorporeal Therapies

Upstate Vet, Greenville is proud to be home to the only veterinary hemodialysis and extracorporeal unit in the state of South Carolina.

This means life-saving technology is available for pets with acute kidney injury, those living with certain immune-mediated diseases, or those in need of immediate care following an accidental poisoning.

What is Hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis is a specialized treatment that supplements the kidney function and removes harmful substances from the blood. This is performed by removing blood from the patient, passing it through a filter that eliminates harmful substances, and then returning clean blood to the patient. Hemodialysis does not heal the kidneys, but instead gives the kidneys time to heal until the primary problem can be naturally reversed. At Upstate Vet, the average treatment will last between 8 -12 hours depending on the disease process.

How Many Treatments Will Be Needed?

Some toxicities only require a single treatment. However, management of acute kidney injury can take several treatments. If hemodialysis is successful, it allows the kidneys to recover and patients to return to normal activity.

What is the Prognosis for Patients Requiring Hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis should be reserved for patients who no longer respond to standard medical management of acute kidney injury, or those with life-threatening injuries following toxin exposure. The survival rate for patients with acute kidney injury treated with hemodialysis is variable depending on the initial origin of injury.

What is Therapeutic Plasma Exchange?

Therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) uses the same dialysis machine, but a different filter system. In TPE, the blood is removed from the patient and passed through a filter that separates the red blood cells from the plasma. Unwanted components of the plasma are removed, such as certain antibodies, toxins, and large levels of proteins seen in some cancers. The patient’s plasma is exchanged by the machine with a combination of fluids and clean plasma from our blood bank. TPE can be used as a first-line treatment in some aggressive immune-mediated diseases or life-threatening toxicities.

Diseases and Toxicities Treated by this Advanced Technology:

  • Acute kidney injury of any cause
  • Infections: Leptospirosis , Pyelonephritis
  • Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA)
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia
  • Hyperviscosity Syndrome (multiple myeloma)
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories toxicity (ibuprofen, naproxen, carprofen, meloxicam, etc.)
  • Antifreeze toxicity (ethylene glycol)
  • Lily toxicity
  • Acetaminophen toxicity
  • Chemotherapeutic medications -5FU, Vincristine ingestions
  • Overdoses of anticonvulsants, such as phenobarbital
  • Baclofen toxicity

It is important to note that common toxicity books, poison control centers, and even internet sites may not have the most up-to-date information on which toxicities can be treated with extracorporeal therapies. If you or your veterinarian aren’t sure whether your pet might benefit from this type of medical treatment, please contact us for more information.

Our Critical Care Teams

Amanda Kuhl
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Veterinary Professionals