When normal is abnormal: keys to laboratory diagnosis of hidden endocrine disease

Graves TK.

Topics in companion animal medicine 2011;26:45-51.

Although veterinary clinicians commonly rely on panels of laboratory tests with individual results flagged when abnormal, care should be taken in interpreting normal test results as well. There are several examples of this in evaluating patients with endocrine disease. The finding of a normal leukogram (absence of a stress leukogram) can be indicative of adrenal insufficiency in dogs, and this disorder can be especially elusive when there are no overt indicators of mineralocorticoid deficiency. Cats with hyperthyroidism can have normal serum thyroid hormone concentrations, normal hematocrits, and normal serum concentrations of creatinine despite the presence of disease that affects these parameters. A normal serum phosphorus concentration, in the face of azotemia, isosthenuria, and hypertension can point a clinician toward a diagnosis of primary hyperaldosteronism rather than primary renal disease. A normal serum parathyroid hormone concentration in the face of hypercalcemia is inappropriate and can indicate the presence of primary hyperparathyroidism. Similarly, hypoglycemia accompanied by a normal serum insulin concentration can be found in cases of hyperinsulinism. These normal findings in abnormal patients, and their mechanisms, are reviewed.