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24 May 2021

Solving Effusion Confusion with Dr. Kate Baker

Solving Effusion Confusion with Dr. Kate Baker

Kate Baker, DVM, MS, DACVP (Clinical Pathology) began her career in vet med at the University of Tennessee, followed by a 1-year rotating internship and a 3-year residency at the University of Illinois in Clinical Pathology. She became board certified in 2016 and worked for several years in a major diagnostic lab, gaining experience in many different types of cases. 

kate bakerToday, Dr. Baker is primarily an online educator of pathology; and when she’s not sharing her vast knowledge and expertise with the world, she’s a mother of two, Nashville-native, hobby photographer, and owner of three dogs, a mini-donkey, a pygmy goat, and 33 chickens.

We are so lucky to have Dr. Baker present two brand new sessions at Vet Show @ Home this June: Part 1: A Microscopic Tour of Non-neoplastic Cavity Effusions and Part 2: A Microscopic Tour of Neoplastic Cavity Effusions. After chatting with Dr. Baker, it’s clear that she’s the perfect person to help end effusion confusion. 

Scoping Out the Subject

With so much to talk about in clinical pathology, Dr. Baker narrowed it down to the subject she felt most important: evaluating effusions, specifically cavity effusions. “I’m excited about these talks,” she says, “because I’ve never done them before - they’re really important and I get asked about effusions all the time.” Dr. Baker will be going over everything from how to prepare an effusion for evaluation all the way to understanding what you’re seeing under the microscope. 

“Effusions happen to all animals (obviously) so whether you’re in general practice, emergency, or specialty practice, it’s relevant to all. It’s an area that a lot of people actually feel really uncomfortable with, so I’m hoping to be able to clarify a lot of confusion and make it feel not as daunting. You really need a framework to understand what you’re looking at, so that’s what I will be doing with these sessions.”

An Eye for Effusions

We asked Dr. Baker to tell us about a case that has stuck with her. One case that she will remember forever took place during the weekend several years ago, when a young Border Collie came into the emergency hospital where she worked. On her day off, with no on-call availability, she went in because the dog was in need of expert cytologic assistance. 

He had an abdominal effusion and other strange clinical signs like skin lesions and high fever. Dr. Baker prepped the sample, took a look under the microscope, and saw a ton of inflammation. Given these symptoms, she thought that it could be a bacterial septic effusion: maybe he ate a foreign body and it perforated his intestines. After looking around for a while with no signs of bacteria, she began to wonder if this could be a Blastomycosis case, which is a common fungal infection that can cause the fever and lesions; however, abdominal effusion is not something you typically see with that. Listening to the nagging feeling that she should keep looking (and ignoring the fact that it was a Saturday and she wasn’t getting paid for this), she finally found one Blastomyces yeast. This was the only case she’s ever seen a Blastomyces in an effusion - it can happen, but very rarely. 

“It’s not the best thing to have, but the great thing for everybody was that there was an answer right there under the microscope, it was clear and obvious. They wouldn’t have gotten that answer any other way, or as quickly, because you can do some additional testing but it takes a long time. That just shows the power of looking under the microscope at your effusions.”

Cytology Mythology

There are plenty of myths surrounding cytology. Do I really need to look at the fluid under the microscope? There’s also general confusion on preparing effusion samples: Do I need a concentrated preparation, or not? What types of testing do I need to do on the fluid? 

According to Dr. Baker, “There are times when people will just look at the effusion grossly - meaning, looking at it just with the naked eye and evaluating the color and how thick it is. While those are very important parts of effusion evaluation, they can’t replace seeing what's taking place on a cellular level.” 

In her sessions, Dr. Baker will give a thorough tour of the microscopic world of cavity effusions and use case examples to emphasize their utility. One of the biggest misconceptions about cytology is not fully understanding just how important it is. 

Dr. Baker at Vet Show @ Home

Dr. Baker will be speaking at Vet Show @ Home and available to answer your burning questions about effusions on June 21-23. Her sessions are focused on helping practitioners, not pathologists. Veterinarians, veterinary technicians involved in cytologic evaluation, and even those who aren’t can all benefit. “Just because you’re not in an emergency or pathology setting,” she says, “doesn’t mean that you can’t do effusion cytology in your practice. A lot of people are really intimidated by cytology in general but it’s one that with practice, just like anything else, you’d get better at.”

With so many great speakers at the show, Dr. Baker is most looking forward to hearing from others and learning about new topics that are not pathology specific. “I’m just digging the virtual CE!” she says.

Ready to end your effusion confusion? Join Dr. Kate Baker and other incredible speakers like her at Vet Show @ Home, June 21-23. Earn up to 20 CE credits, choose from a wide variety of content, network with your peers, meet industry suppliers, and win awesome prizes - 100% free! Register today to save your spot!


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