Radiology (X-ray technology) is routinely used to provide valuable information on a pet’s bones, gastrointestinal tract (stomach, intestines, colon), respiratory tract (lungs), heart and genitourinary system (bladder, prostate). It can be used alone or in conjunction with other diagnostic tools to help determine a pet’s condition.
When a pet is being radiographed, an X-ray beam passes through its body and hits a piece of radiographic film. Images on the film appear as various shades of gray and reflect the anatomy of the animal. Bones, which absorb more x-rays, appear as light gray structures. Soft tissues, such as the lungs, absorb fewer x-rays and appear as dark gray structures. Interpretation of radiographs requires great skill on the part of the veterinarian.
Ultrasonography, or ultrasound, is a diagnostic imaging technique similar to radiography (X-rays) and is usually used in conjunction with radiography and other diagnostic measures. It allows visualization of the deep structures of the body.
Ultrasound can be used for a variety of purposes, including examination of the animal’s heart, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, and bladder. It can also be used to determine pregnancy and to monitor an ongoing pregnancy. Ultrasound can detect fluid, cysts, tumors or abscesses.
A small, hand-held tool called a transducer is applied to the surface of the body. Gel is used to help the transducer slide over the skin’s surface and create a more accurate visual image. Sound waves are then emitted from the transducer and directed into the body, where they bounce off organs to different degrees, depending on the density of the tissues and the amount of fluid present. The sounds are then fed back through the transducer and are reflected on a viewing monitor. Ultrasound is a painless procedure with no known side effects. It does not involve radiation.