Slide agglutination is a blood test used in cats to screen for immune disease, particularly immune mediated hemolytic anemia. This immune disease causes the immune system to attack and destroy red blood cells. The cells become fragile and break apart, resulting in profound anemia. A positive slide agglutination indicates immune mediated hemolytic anemia. A negative result does not rule out immune disease.
There are no real contraindications to performing this test. Even negative results are helpful.
What Does a Slide Agglutination Reveal in Cats?
A slide agglutination can reveal whether or not the red blood cells have become fragile due to immune disease. The immune system is responsible for detecting foreign invaders and eliminating those invaders. Immune disease of the blood can cause the immune system to target red blood cells, as though the body no longer recognizes them, and try to destroy and eliminate them from the body. As the immune system attacks the red blood cells, the cells become thin and fragile, breaking apart and resulting in anemia. Even though a slide agglutination is negative, this does not mean the cat is not afflicted with an immune disease.
How Is a Slide Agglutination Done in Cats?
Your veterinarian draws a blood sample and places a drop of whole blood on a microscope slide. A drop of 0.9% saline is then added to the slide and mixed with the blood, and the slide is gently rocked. The blood is observed for agglutination, which looks like small clumps or peppering. Since red blood cells can stick together when removed from the body and can result in a false positive, the slide is then examined under the microscope to confirm the diagnosis. A slide agglutination test takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
Is a Slide Agglutination Painful to Cats?
Any pain involved is associated with the collection of the blood sample, since a needle is used to pierce the skin and enter a blood vessel to draw the sample. As with people, the pain experienced from a needle will vary from individual to individual.
Is Sedation or Anesthesia Needed for a Slide Agglutination?
Neither sedation nor anesthesia is needed in most patients; however, some cats resent needle sticks and may need tranquilization or ultrashort anesthesia.