everything you need to know about diagnostic imaging
Information obtained from UC Davis Veterinary Medicine online as well as first hand information from trained Veterinarians and Technicians from our clinic.
Radiographs, or x-ray studies, use a very short burst of x-rays to create an image of the body. Our hospital is equipped with digital radiography systems that capture the radiograph without the use of film. Radiographs are used to diagnose disease in the chest, abdomen and musculoskeletal system. We also perform many special studies such as contrast studies of the gastrointestinal and urinary tract to diagnose obstructions. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of veterinary medical imaging.
An x-ray is typically the first imaging test used to help diagnose problems such as: • trouble breathing • cough • trauma • fever
Veterinarians use the examination to help diagnose or monitor treatment for conditions such as: • pneumonia • heart failure and other heart problems • cancer • other medical conditions
Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation (x-ray). Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels. Ultrasound imaging can be performed using minimal restraint or sedation.
Veterinarians often use ultrasound to guide a small needle to diseased areas of tissue for biopsy. Abdominal ultrasound imaging is performed to evaluate the:
blood vessels of the abdomen
Ultrasound is used to help diagnose a variety of conditions, such as:
enlarged abdominal organ
stones in the kidney or bladder
needle biopsies in which needles are used to extract a sample of cells from organs for laboratory testing.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, and other internal body structures. The images can then be examined on a computer monitor or printed. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays), but detects the motion of protons that are normally present in the body.
Detailed MR images allow veterinary radiologists to better evaluate parts of the body and certain diseases that may not be assessed adequately with other imaging methods such as x-ray, ultrasound or computed tomography (also called CT or “CAT” scanning).
Currently, MRI is the most sensitive imaging test of the head (particularly in the brain) in clinical practice.
MR imaging is performed to help diagnose: • tumors and inflammatory diseases of the brain and spinal cord • disorders of the eyes and the inner ear • disease in the pituitary gland • other disorders of the head and skull • disorders of bones and joints • diagnosis of lameness
Paralysis, seizures and many other neurological diseases are, by their very nature, terrifying for both an owner and their pet. Veterinary neurologists have expertise and vast experience in dealing specifically with these conditions, which is why family veterinarians rely on their help for challenging cases. Key to determining what is causing the problem is a full neurological examination, at the end of which the neurologist will provide you with several options. These options may range from a few blood tests or a simple treatment to a CT scan or MRI.