In-house imaging equipment including x-ray and ultrasound to help us to speedily diagnose potential issues in our patients.
Diagnostic imaging plays a central role in accurately diagnosing many medical conditions.
We use digital x-ray, dental x-ray, ultrasound – including colour flow doppler – and endoscopy equipment to allow for rapid diagnosis and treatment.
Radiography, commonly referred to as a digital x-ray, is an essential diagnostic tool for the veterinary practitioner and is extremely useful for diagnosis of many conditions commonly encountered in the animals we see.
An x-ray is a quick and painless procedure commonly used to produce images of the inside of the body.
X-rays are a type of radiation that can pass through the body. They can't be seen by the naked eye and you can't feel them.
As they pass through the body, the energy from x-rays is absorbed at different rates by different parts of the body. A detector on the other side of the body picks up the x-rays after they've passed through and turns them into an image.
Dense parts of the body that x-rays find it more difficult to pass through, such as bone, show up as clear white areas on the image. Softer parts that x-rays can pass through more easily, such as your pet’s heart and lungs, show up as darker areas.
Technology in this area has rapidly improved since the 1990s when many of the practices were still dipping x-ray films into buckets of chemicals in a darkened cupboard!
Having the latest digital technology has led to obtaining fast images, shortening anaesthetic or sedation times considerably, and images with greater detail, allowing better diagnostic decisions to be made.
The images can be altered after being taken to produce the best version for diagnosis from contrast and brightness through to zoom, measurements and calculations. These can then be easily shared, if needed, with referral centres or to the BVA in the case of elbow and hip scores.
We also have specific dental x-ray equipment in our dental suite which is useful for evaluating tooth roots and the surrounding bone that cannot be visualised with oral examination alone.
This can be extremely beneficial to allow for accurate diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan.
In feline dentistry certain conditions can be identified with radiographs that will substantially reduce surgical time as tooth removal may be identified as unnecessary.
Ultrasound machines send sound waves into the body that are reflected back to a probe and interpreted by a computer, much like when you hear an echo from someone shouting.
The sound waves bounce back at different strengths depending on the density of the tissue encountered.
The computer can then present an image on the monitor that can be analysed for abnormalities. Ultrasound examination is completely painless for the animal.
Ultrasound is best used on tissues or organs that are fluid filled.
The liver, gallbladder, kidneys, adrenal glands, spleen, urinary bladder, pancreas, lymph nodes and blood vessels of the abdomen can be readily imaged. The stomach wall and intestinal walls can also be evaluated, but their internal contents cannot be easily identified.
X-rays are also used to evaluate the abdomen, but they are limited in the amount of diagnostic information they provide when compared to ultrasound for some areas or conditions. Often both tests will be recommended to gather the most information.
Ultrasound can often be performed while your pet is conscious and typically causes no distress. It can often be repeated, such as with pregnancy diagnosis and assessment or for looking at the progression of a condition. It can also be used to assist in guided biopsies or when sampling fluid.
We use the ultrasound machine daily. It is a fantastic way to assess so many of the common conditions that we deal with.
As technology progresses alongside new techniques used to perform it, more detailed information can be obtained, and we continue to have even more success in finding previously hidden diseases.
An endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a light and camera at one end which is connected to a viewing screen at the other.
We often use this for diagnosis of intestinal disorders and sometimes airways. It can allow us to directly visualise problem areas and obtain biopsies without the need for more invasive surgery.
In some circumstances we can use this to retrieve foreign bodies such as blades of grass that have been inhaled or smaller items that have been eaten inappropriately that are still in the stomach.
General anaesthesia will always be required for endoscopy procedures.