Diagnostic imaging is an exceptional tool used by our Stockton 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 Cats and Dogs
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, 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-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 to get a clear image of our patient. 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. If your pet is unsettled, anxious, or in pain, sedation may be necessary.
Ultrasound Imaging for Cats and Dogs
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 require different preparations. Speak to your vet to find out how to prepare your pet for their ultrasound. You may be required to withhold food and water for between 8 and 12 hours, particularly for abdominal ultrasounds. We can best examine the urinary bladder when it is full of urine. This is why your cat or dog should not urinate for about 3 to 6 hours before the ultrasound, if possible.
The area to be examined will likely be shaved so clear images can be produced. We apologize for how silly your pet may look with part of their fur shaved but it is important for their health and the test does not hurt your pet. Most pets will remain still and cooperative during the ultrasound, some will need to be sedated.
PET/CT Scan for Cats and Dogs
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 greater detail than would be impossible to achieve with standard X-rays.
CT scanners provide your vet with an 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 the chest/lungs. It 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 use of a contrast agent given to your pet intravenously (IV), allows vets to see increased areas of blood flow in the animal's body. PET scans aid in the detection of cancer and areas of inflammation. In humans, PET scans are used to give doctors a detailed view of how the patient's tissues and organs are working. PET scans are most commonly used to detect and monitor cancer.
CT & PET Scan Process
CT and PET require that the animal stay completely still. For this reason, your vet will perform these diagnostic imaging tests while your pet is under general anesthesia. Your pet's vital signs are closely monitored while under anesthesia throughout the entire CT/PET process. In most cases, a CT/PET scan is a quick process. Once the scan is complete the images will typically be interpreted by a specialist and a detailed report with findings and diagnostic recommendations will be sent to the vet handling your pet's treatment.
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.