Diagnostic imaging is an exceptional tool used by our Riverside County vets to help us pinpoint the cause, extent, or seriousness of your pet's illness or injury. Depending on your pet's condition, the type of diagnostic imaging used will vary. Below are a few of the tests that your vet may recommend to help diagnose or treat your dog or cat.
Radiography - X-Rays for Dogs & Cats
X-rays are one of the most helpful, and frequently used tools in veterinary healthcare. X-rays can help your vet to get a view of your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs so that they can diagnose problems such as broken bones, bladder stones, swallowing 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-rays will not provide a detailed view of your pet's organs, tissues, or ligaments using x-ray technology. In these cases, other diagnostic imaging such as MRI and Ultrasound is more beneficial.
X-rays are non-invasive, painless, and considered very safe for dogs and cats. X-rays, especially digital X-rays, use extremely low doses of radiation. Because the amount of radiation required for radiography is so low, even X-rays of pregnant dogs are safe. Sedation is sometimes necessary to obtain a clear image of your body. Sedation will not be required if your dog or cat is calm, not in too much pain, and able to lie in a comfortable position while the X-ray is being taken. Sedation may be necessary if your pet is unsettled, anxious, or in pain.
Ultrasound Imaging for Pets
Our beloved cats and dogs often get into things they shouldn’t or develop health issues such as cysts or tumors that require treatment. 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 diagnose or evaluate problems with your pet's internal organs or check on your pet's pregnancy.
An ultrasound can help our vets examine the structure of your pet’s organs so we can discover and identify blockages, tumors, or other problems.
Ultrasounds on various parts of your pet's body necessitate different preparations. Speak with your veterinarian about how to prepare your pet for the ultrasound. For abdominal ultrasounds, you may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for 8 to 12 hours. When the urinary bladder is full of urine, we can examine it more thoroughly. If at all possible, your cat or dog should refrain from urinating for 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound.
The area to be examined will likely be shaved so clear images can be produced. While most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some must be sedated.
PET/CT Scan for Pets
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 - a detail that would be impossible to achieve with standard X-rays.
Cat scans for cats and dogs provide your vet with an outstanding image of your dog or cat's bony and soft tissue structures. CT technology is most commonly used to generate images of the spine, nasal cavity, inner ear, bones/joints, and chest/lungs. We can also use the CT machine to assess lymph nodes, the thyroid gland, abdominal organs, the skull/brain, and vascular structures.
Positron Emission Tomography - PET Scans for Dogs & Cats
A CT scan combined with the administration of a contrast agent intravenously (IV) to your pet allows veterinarians to see increased areas of blood flow in the animal's body. PET scans help detect cancer and areas of inflammation. PET scans are used in humans to provide doctors with a detailed picture of how the patient's tissues and organs are functioning. PET scans are most commonly used for cancer detection and monitoring.
CT & PET Scan Process
CT and PET scans require the animal to be completely still. As a result, your veterinarian will perform these diagnostic imaging tests while your pet is sedated. Throughout the CT/PET procedure, your pet's vital signs are closely monitored while he or she is sedated. In most cases, a CT/PET scan takes only a few minutes. When the scan is finished, the images are typically interpreted by a specialist, and a detailed report with findings and diagnostic recommendations is sent to the veterinarian who is treating your pet.
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 is only recently that veterinary MRIs have become more widely used.
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.
MRIs for dogs and cats take 45 minutes to an hour to complete. For an MRI to be successful, the patient must be completely still. A general anesthetic will be administered to your dog or cat prior to the MRI scan to ensure the success of your pet's MRI. Blood tests and X-rays are typically recommended prior to the MRI to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to be sedated.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.