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Reference intervals: new guidelines for an essential resource
  1. Carolyn Cray
  1. Department of Pathology, Division of Comparative Pathology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, PO Box 016960 R-46, Miami, FL 33101, USA
  1. e-mail: c.cray{at}

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REGARDLESS of the species of animal that has been examined and the type of assay used, there is a point at which the interpretation of a result falls to the veterinarian who must call upon his/her experience, scientific knowledge and available empirical data by which to compare and interpret results as part of the overall decision process. These data are often referred to as reference ranges, normal limits, normal values, and the preferred term of reference intervals. These can vary widely by laboratory and by test method and, in veterinary medicine, have often been generated in a less than controlled manner. This is especially true for the field of avian and exotic pet medicine where sample size in the generation of reference intervals is often quite limited.

To generate reference intervals to support a valid comparison of patient results, certain tenets are essential to this systematic process (Horn and Pesce 2003, Geffre and others 2009b, Friedrichs and others 2011). This starts with the assurance that information regarding all animals is clearly addressed. This is inclusive not only of the definition of clinical health but also age, sex, husbandry, geographic location, season, reproductive cycle and breed. Other concerns include fasting status, stress, exercise and …

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