Diagnostic imaging capabilities allow your vet to efficiently produce accurate diagnostic information about your pet's condition and provide immediate treatment options. The imaging tool used will vary depending on the condition that is being diagnosed. Our Hattiesburg and Wiggins vets talk about the various types of diagnostic imaging for your cat or dog such as CT scans, x-rays, ultrasounds and more.
X-Rays or Radiography For Your Dog or Cat
The most commonly used form of diagnostic imaging in medicine is the X-ray or Radiography. X-rays allow for an internal view of your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs so that they can diagnose problems such as broken bones, bladder stones, swallowed foreign objects, and more. X-ray images can help vets to spot some tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs which may lead to a diagnosis such as heart disease or cancer.
X-ray technology is able to show an overall view of the dense internal workings of your pet but they will not provide a detailed view of your pet's organs, tissues, or ligaments. If a more detailed view is necessary for diagnosis then your vet will opt for other diagnostic imaging such as MRI and Ultrasound which will be much more beneficial in these cases.
X-rays are thought to be quite safe for dogs and cats, as well as painless and non-invasive. Very low radiation doses are used in X-rays, especially digital X-rays. Even X-rays of pregnant dogs are safe because radiography requires very little radiation exposure. Sometimes you need to be sedated in order to have a clear picture of your body. Sedation won't be required if your dog or cat is calm, not in too much pain, and able to lie in a comfortable position during the X-ray procedure. Certain pets may need to be sedated to maintain their composure and facilitate your veterinarian's work, as they may find it difficult to relax during the diagnostic procedure.
Ultrasound Imaging For Your Dog or Cat
Sometimes our cat or dog may eat objects that they shouldn't or they can develop conditions such as cysts or pregnancy which are unable to be seen using the standard x-ray. Ultrasounds are a form of imaging technology that transmits sound waves into your pet’s body to produce a 'picture' of a specific body part. Veterinary ultrasounds are non-invasive and can be used to diagnose or evaluate problems with your pet's internal organs or check on your pet's pregnancy.
Ultrasounds provide your vet with the opportunity to examine the structure of your cat or dog's organs so we can discover and identify blockages, tumors or other problems.
Different preparatory techniques will apply depending on the type of ultrasound your pet will receive and the area of the body your veterinarian will be examining. For information on preparing your pet for an ultrasound, consult your veterinarian. For eight to twelve hours, especially during abdominal ultrasounds, you might need to refrain from eating and drinking. Urine-filled bladders allow for the most thorough examinations. This is the reason you should try to avoid having your dog or cat urinate for three to six hours prior to the ultrasound.
It is most likely that your vet will shave the area on your cat or dog that they will be performing the ultrasound. While most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some will need to be sedated if they are anxious or unable to be controlled.
PET/CT Scans For Your Dog or Cat
Computed Tomography - CT Scans for Dogs & Cats
The high-resolution images produced by the CT machine help your veterinary team to evaluate your pet's anatomy in great detail far beyond the capabilities of the X-ray machine.
With CT scanners, your veterinarian can see the soft tissues as well as your pet's skeleton in remarkably detailed detail. Images of the spine, nasal cavity, inner ear, bones and joints, and chest and lungs are the most frequently created using CT technology. The CT scanner can also be used to evaluate vascular structures, thyroid function, abdominal organs, lymph nodes, and the skull and brain.
Positron Emission Tomography - PET Scans for Dogs & Cats
Using a CT scan in conjunction with an intravenous (IV) contrast agent, veterinarians can see areas of increased blood flow in your pet's body. PET scans are useful for identifying inflammatory and cancerous lesions. PET scans on humans provide medical professionals with a comprehensive picture of the tissues and organs within the patient. The most frequent application of PET scans is in the diagnosis of specific cancers.
CT & PET Scan Process
A commonality between the CT and PET scans is that your pet must remain motionless during the entire process. For this reason, putting your pet to sleep under general anesthesia while your veterinarian does the imaging is a common practice. All during the CT/PET procedure, your pet's vital signs are closely monitored while they are sedated. Generally, a CT/PET scan takes only a few minutes to complete. Following the completion of the scan, a specialist will usually interpret the images, and the veterinarian treating your pet will receive a comprehensive report including the results and diagnostic suggestions.
MRI - Veterinary Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Dogs & Cats
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has been readily available to help diagnose human health concerns since the early 1980s, but it wasn't until recently that it started to be looked at as a part of routine diagnostic imaging for cats and dogs.
MRI scans can provide your vet with high-resolution, detailed images of your pet's soft tissues including the brain, spinal cord, ligaments, tendons, and abdominal organs. For many types of soft tissue injuries or diseases, the use of veterinary MRIs can provide a more detailed image of your pet's body than other diagnostic imaging tools such as X-Rays or CT Scans.
If your dog or cat is exhibiting symptoms such as limping, lameness, seizures, joint pain, neck pain, back pain, or paralysis, an MRI might be recommended to help diagnose the cause of your pet's symptoms.
An MRI for a dog or cat can take about 45 minutes to complete on average. The patient must be perfectly still for the MRI to be successful. Your dog or cat will receive a general anesthetic before their MRI scan in order to guarantee the success of the procedure. For the purpose of ensuring that your pet is healthy enough to undergo general anesthesia, veterinarians usually advise having blood work and X-rays completed prior to the MRI.
Diagnostic Imaging For Your Dog or Cat at Holland Veterinary Hospitals
Our Hattiesburg and Wiggins board-certified specialists and emergency vets are pleased to provide advanced veterinary diagnostics including ultrasounds. These diagnostic tools allow us to provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your pet's medical issues. Contact us to learn more about the advanced veterinary care and diagnostic imaging at Holland Veterinary Hospitals.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes only. Holland Veterinary Hospitals does not currently offer CT Scans or MRIs.