Overview

Veterinarians utilize the advanced imaging modalities of radiography (x-ray), ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment planning of diseases in companion animals.

Diagnostic imaging allows doctors to look inside the pet’s body for hints of a medical condition without using invasive procedures.

Most of the imaging tests are painless and easy.

But there are some setbacks as well which include:

  • Some tests require the patient to stay still for a long time inside a machine which can be uncomfortable.
  • Certain tests involve exposure to radiation.
  • Some imaging tests also require insertion of a tiny camera attached to a long, thin tube in the pet’s body (called scope).
  • Some procedures often require anesthesia.

Even though these may seem harsh at one look but they are unavoidable and very fruitful in medicine.

Radiology

  • Radiology uses X-rays to view the internal structure of the body.
  • Since the body is made up of various substances which have differing densities, these rays can be used to reveal the internal structure of the body on film.
  • They are extremely helpful for diagnosing and monitoring medical and surgical conditions in pets.
  • X-rays are used to examine the pet’s bones, lungs, heart, abdomen, oral cavity and other areas of the body.
  • It can be used to spot a fractured bone, detect tumors, help with diagnosis of heartworm disease or locate an obstruction or foreign body in your pet’s intestine or stomach.

If used along with other procedures, it can even accurately diagnose problems, making treatment faster and easier for the pet as well as the veterinarian

Medical Ultrasound

  • It is a diagnostic imaging technique which uses ultrasound to see internal body structures and internal organs.
  • Ultrasound images, also known as sonograms, are made by sending pulses of ultrasound into tissue using a probe which echoes off the tissue. These echoes are recorded and displayed as an image to the operator.
  • Many types of images can be formed.
  • The technique is invaluable for the examination of internal organs and is extremely useful in pregnancy diagnosis, evaluating heart conditions and identifying changes in abdominal organs.
  • Ultrasonography is very useful in the diagnosis of cysts and tumors.
  • Anesthesia is not usually needed for it and the technique is totally painless.
  • But it has limits on its field of view, such as the need for patient cooperation, dependence on physique, difficulty imaging structures behind bone and air, and the necessity of a skilled operator.
  • It is generally considered safe, effective and highly flexible imaging modality capable of providing clinically relevant information.
  • Moreover, it is rapid and cost-effective.

Echo

  • In this technique, ultrasound is used to view the structure and function of the heart in real time.
  • It is highly informative, non-invasive and safe.
  • It uses high frequency sound waves emitted via a hand held probe to produce an ultrasound beam. This beam is reflected from the chest and heart tissues and is used to create an image of the heart in motion.
  • According to the type of echocardiography technique used, the structure of the heart walls, chambers and valves, blood flow direction and velocity, and heart wall motion velocity can be examined.
  • It is routinely performed for breeds at risk for heart disease or for pre breeding purposes.
  • It is considered the best test for the diagnosis of a heart disease since it is done in real time.
  • But sometimes it must be combined with other methods like CT scan, blood work, chest x-rays, etc to make a correct and proper diagnosis.
  • Majority of the animals do not need to be sedated or shaved for an echo.
  • Also it is painless and comfortable.
  • Plus the pet does not need to be starved beforehand for the test.

It only requires about 1 ½ to 2 hours including the discussion time with the in charge veterinarian.

Endoscopy

  • Endoscopy is the medical procedure where the doctors can see the inside of the patient’s body by insertion of a narrow tube attached to a camera (an endoscope).
  • It is used to examine a hollow organ or cavity of the body from the inside.
  • It allows visualization and sampling of abnormalities.
  • It is very advantageous in diagnostics since it is non-invasive, non-surgical and allows direct visualization and multiple repeated examinations.

Moreover, complications due to endoscopy are rare.

Computed Tomography

  • Computed tomography or CT scans combine X-rays using a computer to create three dimensional models of the scanned organ.
  • These help doctor to see the body’s internal organs such as the brain.
  • These help in diagnosis of tumors, lesions and other problems by comparison with a healthy organ structure.
  • A CT scan may be conducted on an animal’s lungs to identify or rule out metastasis.
  • It also helps the vets to understand orthopedic abnormalities and plan their treatment accordingly.
  • Although, CT scan is just a simple radiograph but it works as a strong diagnostic tool as well.

It has no side effects whatsoever