What happens when your pet is sick or injured and your veterinarian needs to have a closer look? Sometimes, they need to use radiography veterinary medicine to find out what’s wrong with your furry friend in order to give him or her the best care possible.

That’s normal enough, but do you know what medical imaging is, what options exist in veterinary care, or how medical imaging affects your dog or cat? Read on to learn more!

What is radiography veterinary medicine?

Medical imaging is a diagnostic tool that allows veterinarians to take pictures of the inside of your pet in order to diagnose an ailment. A major benefit of it is that it is non-invasive, which means that no incision is necessary to produce an image.

Medical imaging is usually recommended when a veterinarian believes there is a problem that cannot be identified using a basic physical exam or blood test. There are four types of medical imaging available through radiography veterinary medicine.

X-rays: X-rays, also known as radiographs, are the most common form of imaging used by veterinarians. They are particularly useful for diagnosing fractures, arthritis, and pneumonia.

Ultrasound: Imaging with sound waves is called ultrasound imaging and it is the second most common form of medical imaging in radiography veterinary medicine. When an ultrasound examination is performed, a harmless, high-frequency sound beam – not detectable by humans or pets – is projected into the body of your pet. These are complementary to x-rays and are especially useful in detecting abdominal diseases and are often able to provide a diagnosis when x-rays cannot.

CT and MRI Scans: CT scanning is a special type of x-ray exam in which a series of x-ray images of your pet is obtained. They are most useful when evaluating very complex parts of the body such as the head, chest, and some joints. MRIs, by contrast, utilizes a magnetic field and radio waves to make images. MRIs can detect changes in body tissue by revealing increases in water and fluids due to inflammation or bleeding.

Will my pet need anesthesia or sedation?

This depends on how nervous or comfortable your pet is during the procedure, and to some degree on the type of imaging test performed. For most x-ray procedures, no sedation or anesthesia is needed unless your pet is in pain and such options make your pet more comfortable. The same goes for ultrasound examinations.

On the other hand, anesthesia is almost always needed for CT and MRI examinations because it is very important that your pet remains still while images are being acquired.

Does radiography veterinary medicine always provide the final diagnosis?

That’s the goal, and occasionally it is possible to obtain a final answer from an imaging test. However, many times the results of multiple tests are needed to determine a diagnosis.

In fact, imaging tests often reveal the need for a totally different type of test, such as a biopsy. As a pet owner, you should be prepared for a logical progression of multiple tests to determine a final diagnosis of your pet’s ailment.

Radiography veterinary medicine can be very complex and a veterinary radiologist may be needed to interpret the results accurately. Radiologists have licensed veterinarians who have completed 3-4 years of post-DVM training in diagnostic imaging interpretation and have passed a comprehensive certification examination. Call our office today to schedule an appointment with our veterinary dental specialist.

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