Diagnostic Imaging Techniques
Radiography is a diagnostic imaging technique that uses ionizing radiation (x-rays) to produce an image of an internal body structure. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered x-rays in the year 1895; since then the technology has evolved rapidly. Initially, radiographs were produced by exposing silver-containing films to ionizing radiation. Within the last decade, film-based radiography has transitioned in human as well as veterinary medicine to digital radiographic images. Today, virtually all types of medical images can be produced and stored in digital format. Radiography is used to diagnose disease of the chest, abdomen and musculoskeletal system. Additionally, contrast imaging studies are performed to evaluate the gastrointestinal and urinary tract.
Fluoroscopy is a radiographic imaging technique which allows studying moving body structures using a continuous x-ray beam and displaying it on a TV-like monitor. Fluoroscopy allows us to evaluate different body systems, including the skeletal, respiratory, gastro-intestinal and urinary system. Fluroscopy might also be used to evaluate specific organs such as the heart, lung, kidneys or urinary bladder or specific areas of the body such as bones, muscles and joints. Fluroscopy can also be used together with a contrast agent to evaluate the function of an organ, such as motility of the stomach or heart. Fluoroscopy is also used in cardiology to evaluate the blood flow through the vessels or to intravenously insert a catheter to the desired location.
Ultrasound has been a popular medical imaging technique as it does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays) and allows evaluating internal structures of the body in real time. Ultrasound or ultrasonography is a diagnostic imaging technique that uses high frequency sound waves and records their echoes to create an image. The technique is similar to echolocation of bats, whales and dolphins, as well as submarines. Ultrasound can help in the evaluation of pregnant animals and can aid in the diagnosis of a variety of diseases of different organ systems. Ultrasound studies are performed to examine abdominal and thoracic organs, tendons, ligaments, and joints to aid in the diagnosis of weight loss, suspected tumors, musculoskeletal problems, or diseases of the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, bladder and other organs. In addition, our ultrasound specialists perform ultrasound-guided aspiration or biopsies to provide accurate samples for our laboratory to perform diagnostic testing to confirm the diagnosis.
Computed Tomography (CT) Overview
Computed tomography, sometimes also called CAT scan, utilizes special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. These cross-sectional images of the area of interest can then be examined on a computer monitor. CT provides a more detailed image of internal organs, bones, soft tissue and vascular structures than conventional x-rays. CT can help in the diagnosis of an endless list of diseases. CT is often the preferred method to evaluate a variety of cancers including lung cancer, abdominal and bone tumors as the images allow confirming the presence of a tumor, measure its size, precise location and the extent of the tumor’s involvement with other nearby tissues. CT is also an invaluable tool in diagnosis of disease of the spine and musculoskeletal system.
Nuclear Medicine Overview
Nuclear scintigraphy is an imaging procedure which provides information about body or organ systems based on the distribution pattern of a radioactive substance in the body. A radiopharmaceutical is a chemical substance that contains a radionuclide within its structure. Radiopharmaceuticals are formulated in a variety of ways to deliver the radionuclide to particular parts of the body. The radiopharmaceutical is administered intravenously and binds to the area of interest, and a gamma camera attached to a computer is then used to scan the animal for localization of the radiation ("hot spots"), indicating the site of the problem. The radioactive substance does not harm the animal and is quickly excreted from the body mainly through the urine. Nuclear scintigraphy is a useful diagnostic tool to screen or localize subtle lesions, such as incomplete fractures, degenerative changes in the spine or limbs, or infection. Scintigraphy can also provide information about the relative function of an organ. Although nuclear scintigraphy does not specifically diagnose the underlying problem, it provides important information that is helpful in determining the need for further diagnostic tests and in guiding management. In scintigraphy one of the big goals is to use the optimal radioactive dose to acquire the desired information with the least radiation dose to the patient.
The hospital is equipped with a GE Signa Horizon 1 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) unit. MRI is especially useful in imaging the brain and spine, as well as the soft tissue of joints and the interior structures of bones. The instrument is used primarily for dogs and cats, but it also can accommodate small horses, camelids, and small-sized ruminants.