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Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic Imaging

Preventative care and early detection are key when it comes to making sure your pet stays healthy. One of the most powerful tools we have for that is diagnostic imaging. Diagnostic imaging includes ultrasound, radiographs (x-rays), MRI, CT, and fluoroscopy (moving x-rays).

At MVMC, we can perform this imaging in-house. Whether it is ultrasound or MRI, you can be certain that your pet will receive the best imaging test available. The expertise of our radiologist, Dr. Hobbs, aids our clinicians’ decisions regarding your pet’s care in real-time which facilitates quicker diagnoses and a more tailored clinical treatment plan.

Radiographs (x-rays) can show us skeletal fractures, soft tissue damage, foreign bodies, dental disease, and more. While x-rays are non-invasive, some do require that the patient be completely still, so sedation and/or anesthesia of your pet may be necessary. The duration of sedation is usually short and patients tend to recover quickly. Your doctor’s pet and our staff will monitor your pet throughout the procedure and recovery.

Ultrasound uses sound waves to image the abdomen, neck, or muscular system. When radiographs are not able to make the diagnosis then ultrasound is the next step. Occasionally, it is chosen as the first imaging test (such as evaluation of the liver) as it provides much better detail of the abdominal organs. Typically no sedation is needed, but there are patients who require sedation in order for us to obtain better images or to help them relax during the procedure. Ultrasound also provides a way for the radiologist to obtain samples of a mass or other lesions so that a difintive diagnosis can be made and treatment can be started more quickly.

CT stands for computed tomography. You might also know it as a CAT scan. CT is an important diagnostic tool to have available for your pet. CT uses x-rays to create multiple thin transverse slices of your pet (think like slices of a bread loaf, but much thinner). Your pet will need to be placed under heavy sedation or general anesthesia in order to lay still enough for the scan to be of good quality. Once the CT procedure is over, MVMC’s radiologist will examine the images and talk with your veterinarian to come up with the best treatment plan for your pet.

But, why would we need a CT when we can take an x-ray? While x-rays are a good first diagnostic test in many patients, there are cases in which CT is needed to give your pet’s doctors more detailed information. CT can provide a diagnosis of a nose tumor, or a pulmonary thromboembolism (blood clot in the lungs). It can also aid surgeons in surgical planning for removal of large tumors, or definitively diagnose a tumor in the lungs when an x-ray cannot. These are just a few of the many reasons CT is a great diagnostic tool to have available to your pet.

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. At MVMC we have a 1.5 Tesla MRI which is what you will find in most human hospitals. When something goes wrong with your pets brain or back. This is the diagnostic tool that you need to have. MRI is similar to CT in that we get more detailed images but it is better at evaluating soft tissue structures (brain and spinal cord) than CT. Patients need to be under general anesthesia to have this test performed, as it is loud! But don’t worry — cotton is placed in your pet’s ears to protect their ear drums from the sound. With this test, the neurologists and radiologist at MVMC can better evaluate your pet’s brain and/or spinal cord to better treat your pets neurological disease.