What is radiology?
Radiology is taking x-ray images. Our digital radiology machine allows us to take high quality x-ray images rapidly, to ensure we get the views we need to properly assess your animal’s problem. Additionally, the digital nature of these images means they can be easily emailed on to veterinary specialists – this allows rapid referral in cases where your pet is particularly unwell and needs specialist diagnosis, treatment or surgery.
What is radiology useful for?
Whilst x-rays are most useful for assessing the skeletal system (skull, spinal vertebrae, pelvis, limbs, tail), we can often also see outlines of many organs, including the heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, bladder and some of the gastrointestinal system. This allows us to assess the overall size and shape of these organs to look for abnormalities.
Radiology is therefore a useful diagnostic tool for:
- emergency trauma situations, such as if your pet has had a fall or been hit by a car, and we need to check:
- for any bone fractures
- if your pet’s diaphragm is intact
- if there is any obvious bleeding within their chest
- investigation of acute unwellness, e.g.
- if your pet is having breathing difficulties, so we can check for signs of heart or lung disease
- if your pet is having severe vomiting, so we can look for evidence of an intestinal foreign body or obstruction
- if we suspect severe constipation in your pet
- if your pet is having difficulty urinating, or is passing blood, we can check for certain types of bladder stones
- investigation of chronic issues, e.g.
- if your pet has been limping, to look for arthritis or other bone lesions
- if your pet has been coughing or not tolerating exercise, we can check the heart and lungs for signs of disease
- if your pet is generally unwell and lethargic, we can check the chest and abdomen for any obvious organ enlargements
What will x-raying my pet involve?
For the best quality images to be taken, your pet may need a light-moderate sedation unless they are unusually calm or very unwell. It is a big ask for most animals to lie calmly on an unfamiliar table, breathing slowly and deeply, with no-one holding them! We are unable to let owners be present in the room with their animal due to OH&S legalities – whilst the radiation of x-rays is deemed safe for very occasional usage, only the patient should be exposed to minimise unnecessary risk.
Your animal does not require any shaving of fur for x-rays to be taken, though collars and harnesses are generally removed.
What is ultrasound?
Ultrasound involves use of a blunt, smooth probe placed on the skin. This probe transmits harmless high-frequency soundwaves into your pet’s body, and then collects the waves that bounce back, which happens differently through different types of body tissue. The ultrasound machine is then able to use this information to create real-time image of your pet’s internal organs, called a sonogram.
What does an ultrasound involve?
To get good quality images, we need to shave your pet’s fur over the area of interest (abdomen or chest), and place gel on their skin to allow good contact with the probe. Unless your pet has an underlying hormonal problem, their fur should grow back as normal in a few weeks to months.
Some pets need pain relief and/or light to moderate sedation if their condition is painful or if they are very anxious, but others will lie calmly with a gentle nurse cuddle during the procedure.
What is ultrasound useful for?
Ultrasound is a very useful diagnostic tool for letting us look within organs, to see a basic view of the tissue structure within. This can allow us to see inside:
- The bladder, to look for any lumps, bladder stones or thickening. We can also use the ultrasound to accurately guide a fine needle into your pet’s bladder to collect a urine sample if we need check for infections or other urinary diseases.
- The liver and gallbladder, to look for any evidence of tumours, significant inflammation causing irregularity, gall bladder stones, or bile abnormalities.
- The spleen, to look for any evidence of tumours
- The uterus (if present), to check for evidence of pregnancy, and check on the heartbeats of the pups if we are worried about birthing difficulties. We can also look for evidence of pyometra (uterus infections or tumours) in animals who aren’t desexed or pregnant.
- The intestines, to look for any evidence of tumours, inflammation, foreign bodies, or obstructions (although this may need a specialist to perform fully depending on the case)
- The kidneys, to look for any evidence of kidney stones, tumours or significant inflammation
- The pancreas, to look for any evidence of significant inflammation or tumours
- The abdominal cavity as a whole, to look for any evidence of fluid build-up, which can suggest bleeding of organs in cases of trauma or tumours, or peritonitis (infection in the abdomen).
Specialists or highly-trained ultrasonographers are also able to perform echocardiography (heart ultrasound), to check inside the heart to look for any thickening of the valves, changes in thickness of the walls, or enlargement of the heart chambers (which can be signs of heart disease), or any tumours. At this stage, we prefer to refer these cases to specialists, as we feel this is provides the best cardiac diagnostics for your animal.
Will my animal need diagnostic imaging done?
Beach and Bay’s digital radiology and ultrasound capabilities allow us to “pop the hood” of your pet quickly and safely to get a better medical look, so we can give you more informed diagnosis and treatment advice. We will advise you during a consultation if we would recommend your animal to have x-rays or a sonogram taken for their condition.
For any enquiries about our diagnostic imaging services for your pet, please get in touch.