Radiography, also known as “taking x-rays”, is one of the most common and valuable medical diagnostic tools available in general practice. Radiographs are very useful for screening tools, especially in areas of the body that have contrasting tissue densities or when evaluating solid tissues.
When your pet is sick or has suffered an injury, radiographs provide a minimally invasive tool to help the veterinary care team quickly diagnose your pet so that the right treatment can be started as soon as possible. Radiographs can also be useful as a screening tool for diseases such as checking the chest for cancer before performing a significant surgery.
Radiology may be used alone or in conjunction with other diagnostic tools depending on your pet’s condition. Radiographs may be paired with ultrasound, electrocardiography (ECG), or contrast studies to provide more detailed information about your pet’s condition.
Ultrasound is an invaluable resource for evaluating changes inside the abdominal cavity. Ultrasound allows the veterinary care team to visualize disease processes in the organs that may otherwise go undiagnosed. Evaluation of organ shape, size, margins (edges) and overall appearance can provide important details about your pet’s organ functions. Ultrasound can also be used to help detect tumors. With the ability for real-time monitoring, ultrasounds are also utilized for pregnancy diagnosis and monitoring and for recognizing fetal distress during delivery. On occasion, we may use ultrasound to evaluate the chest cavity or the heart. A full echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) is generally a service provided by a board-certified cardiologist.
An ultrasound exam is generally painless but being positioned on their back can be a bit frightening to some animals. Light sedation may be used to help your pet lie comfortably while the scan is being performed. Often the area of interest will need to be shaved in order to produce the best quality images. Ultrasound works by directing high-frequency sound into the area of interest. The sound waves either transmit through, reflect back, or absorb into the tissues they encounter. Any reflected ultrasound waves will return as echoes and be converted into an image displayed on the monitor, giving a two-dimensional image of the tissues under examination.