Tools of the trade: EPOC

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portable blood analysis system

by Dr Kati Kotiranta-Harris, Emergency Vets 24/7, Cairns, QLD

In our line of work, the EPOC portable blood gas, electrolyte and critical care analyser is like a magical device that almost gives a window into the soul of the animal. 

What’s good about it

The device works using 100µl of blood. From that small amount you get a range of results which includes electrolytes, blood glucose, lactate, renal parameters and the all-important blood gases. From the blood draw to getting the results takes less than five minutes and immediately gives you an incredible amount of useful information.

We use the EPOC on about 80 per cent of patients that arrive in a collapse state or other emergency situations. The EPOC is a fast and efficient way to quickly ascertain what’s going on with the animal. For example, it can help in recognising an endocrine disease patient such as an Addisonian because it gives electrolyte figures with renal parameters. A certain pattern is a massive indication that a collapsed patient might have Addison’s disease. The blood glucose reading is useful with a number of collapsed patients such as diabetic or insulinoma patients.

As our clinic is located in Cairns, we see a lot of paralysis tick patients with respiratory difficulties. The blood gas analysis parameters help us determine whether these patients need to be placed on ventilation or not.

The unit is a small, hand-held device that is easy to store and move to the patient’s side. We’ve had it for about two years. The small sample size and its easy accessibility has revolutionised the way we do things.

What’s not so good

It can be a bit temperamental and is not happy if any air gets into the system. We stock heparin syringes so blood doesn’t clot before it can be used in the analyser. If a cartridge times out before you have a sample, you’ve wasted a whole test. The unit doesn’t integrate with our practice software so all results have to be manually entered.

Where did you get it

Vepalabs

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