Diagnostic imaging is an exceptional tool used by our Scottsdale 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 useful and widely used tools in veterinary medicine. X-rays can provide your veterinarian with an image of your pet's bones, tissues, and internal organs, allowing them to diagnose issues such as broken bones, bladder stones, swallowing foreign objects, and more. X-ray images can assist veterinarians in detecting tumors, pregnancy, and enlarged organs, which may lead to a diagnosis of 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 painless, non-invasive, and considered very safe for dogs and cats. X-rays, particularly digital X-rays, use only very low doses of radiation. Because the level of radiation exposure required to perform radiography is very low, even X-rays of pregnant dogs are safe. Sedation is sometimes required in order to get a clear image of your body. If your dog or cat is calm, not in too much pain, and able to lay in a comfortable position while the X-ray is being taken, sedation will not be necessary. That said, if your pet is unsettled, anxious, or in pain, sedation may be necessary.
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 be used to 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 different 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 required to fast for 8 to 12 hours. We can examine the urinary bladder best when it is full of urine. This is why, if possible, your cat or dog should not urinate for 3 to 6 hours prior to 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 will need to 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.
CT scanners provide an excellent image of your dog or cat's bony and soft tissue structures to your veterinarian. The spine, nasal cavity, inner ear, bones/joints, and chest/lungs are the most commonly imaged structures with CT technology. The CT machine can also be used to examine lymph nodes, thyroid glands, 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
The animal must remain completely still for CT and PET scans. As a result, your veterinarian will conduct these diagnostic imaging tests while your pet is sedated. Throughout the CT/PET procedure, your pet's vital signs are closely monitored while under anesthesia. A CT/PET scan usually takes only a few minutes. After the scan, 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.