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Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests must be performed to confirm a diagnosis of FIC and exclude other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. The following diagnostic tests are often recommended:

  • Your veterinarian will take a complete medical history and perform a thorough physical examination. Special attention will be paid to palpation of the abdomen to feel the bladder.

  • Urinalysis usually is performed to diagnose FIC. Sample collection by cystocentesis in which a needle is directed through the abdominal wall and into the bladder avoids contamination of the urine sample by the urethra or genital tract. However, the possibility that red blood cells will be introduced into the bladder by cystocentesis and the fact that a sample collected by cystocentesis does not assess inflammation in the urethra have led to the recommendation by some veterinarians that a voided sample also be evaluated. The concentrated or dilute nature of the urine is evaluated by a test called "urine specific gravity." Its relative acidity or alkalinity is evaluated by pH, and several chemical tests (for protein, glucose, etc.) are performed. The urine sample is evaluated microscopically for red blood cells, white blood cells, crystals and bacteria.

    Your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic tests to exclude or diagnose other conditions that may cause urinary tract symptoms and to better understand the impact of FIC on your pet. These tests ensure optimal medical care and are selected on a case-by-case basis.

    Additional Tests

  • Urine culture and sensitivity to evaluate for bacterial urinary tract infection (bacterial cystitis). Bacterial urinary tract infection is very uncommon in young to middle-aged cats.

  • Serum biochemistry tests may be recommended to evaluate the general health of your cat or to evaluate for the metabolic effects of urinary obstruction in male cats.

  • Plain abdominal X-rays may be taken to evaluate for dense stones in the bladder such as those made of struvite or calcium oxalate.

  • Special contrast X-ray dye studies may be recommended to evaluate for less dense stones, tumors, or anatomical abnormalities such as an outpouching of the bladder ("urachal diverticulum"). Such studies are called "positive" contrast studies if the inside of the bladder and urethra are outlined by the radiographic contrast dye. This material appears "white" on the X-ray or "negative" contrast studies if the inside of the bladder and urethra are outlined by injected air which appears "black" on the X-rays. Studies that include the use of both contrast dyes and air are called "double contrast" studies. Your veterinarian will decide which of these procedures is indicated in your pet.

  • Abdominal ultrasound examination may be recommended to evaluate for less dense stones or tumors that cannot be identified on plain X-rays.

  • Cystoscopy is a technique in which a rigid or flexible scope is passed into the urethra and bladder with the animal under general anesthesia for direct visualization of the inside lining of the urethra and bladder. This technique allows direct visualization of characteristic bladder hemorrhages in FIC and allows biopsy specimens of the bladder to be obtained. Your veterinarian likely will refer you to a veterinary specialist if this procedure is necessary.

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