Diagnostic Ultrasound and Digital Radiology (X-Ray)
Thanks to advancements in modern technology, diagnosing a situation or disease in animals is faster and more efficient nowadays than ever before. Two important tools that have literally changed emergency medicine in pinpointing internal problems more effectively are high-resolution diagnostic ultrasound and digital radiology (X-rays).
“Looking back, I can’t imagine not having either one available here at the hospital,” says Dr. Randy Wetzel, Medical Director at Regional Emergency Animal Care Hospital (R.E.A.C.H.), “They’re invaluable in helping us confirm or rule out a possible condition with great accuracy, and we are also able to immediately confer with radiologists, cardiologists and other specialists across the country with the ability of Telemedicine Conferencing, where computer images are sent electronically. This means animals at R.E.A.C.H. have access to the same sort of care commonly found at veterinary universities and specialty referral centers. We’re proud to have the technology on site and to also be part of a network of specialists that can help save time and lives.”
Most people are familiar with baby’s first photo – a sonogram (ultrasound) image taken during a woman’s pregnancy. It gives the family and medical team a look inside the body to make sure all is well. Surprisingly, there are many other reasons for using ultrasound, a non-invasive, painless diagnostic procedure that sends high-frequency sound waves into the tissue and then listens for the echoes that bounce back. A hand-held probe is rubbed back and forth on the skin over the area being studied in both humans and animals, resulting as an image on a computer screen. It’s a procedure that helps the veterinarian glean pertinent information, when previously; the only option would be exploratory surgery.
Ultrasound is extremely useful in studying the heart (Echocardiogram) and major blood vessels, as well as the stomach and intestinal tract, liver, spleen, kidneys, pancreas, adrenal glands, urinary bladder, gall bladder, prostate gland and other internal organs. An abdominal ultrasound may be performed after an X-ray or blood test indicate a problem with a specific organ, such as liver or spleen.
Ultrasound can help detect cancers, abscesses and other abnormal situations. It can also be used to help guide a biopsy instrument to allow a portion of the tissue to be removed for diagnosis without the need of surgery. Because images are immediately displayed in real time, it’s possible to observe certain things as they happen, such as blood flow, heart beats and other activity within the body – it’s basically a movie of the inside of one’s pet.
Digital Radiology (X-Ray)
Imagine the surprise and excitement in 1895 when Wilhelm Röntgen, a German physicist and professor at Würzburg University in Bavaria, accidently discovered the first medical x-ray while conducting an experiment with electrical rays and a glass tube. Suddenly, he realized photographic plates near his equipment were glowing, caused by mysterious rays coming from the glass tube containing a pair of electrodes. As electricity passed between the electrodes,
X-rays were emitted and appeared on the photographic plates. An image appeared on the black paper covering the plates - that of his wife’s hand - an eerie inside look that showed the contrast between her delicate opaque bones, translucent skin and a dark image of the wedding ring on her finger.
Röntgen’s discovery was perhaps one of the most important advancements in medical history, allowing doctors the ability to observe the inner workings of the body without having to perform surgery. Since that winter day long ago in December, many developments have been made in the world radiology, including the latest discovery of digital technology.
Digital Radiography (DR) or (DX) is a form of X-ray imaging, where digital X-ray sensors are used instead of traditional photographic film. A digital image capture device is used to record the X-ray image and make it available as a digital file that can be shared with other doctors and saved as part of the patient’s medical record.
The advantages in digital radiology are:
- Faster to process – seconds compared to minutes
- More accurate
- No chemicals – no mess or storage. Better for the environment
- 90% less radiation is used – safer for animals and veterinary staff
- High-resolution images can be viewed instantly
- Images can be enhanced in a variety of ways to improve view
- Images can be stored electronically, eliminating physical storage space
- Images can be sent electronically to specialists for consultation
- A CD can be made to view at home and for follow-up veterinary visits
Digital radiographs (X-rays) are extremely helpful for diagnosing and monitoring many medical and surgical conditions when examining a pet's bones, teeth and gums, lungs, heart, abdomen, and other parts of the body. An X-ray can spot a fractured bone, orthopedic diseases, detect tumors, help with the diagnosis of heartworm disease or locate a swallowed toy, stick or many of the other things curious to dogs. Usually radiology can be performed without sedation. However, if a patient is anxious or experiencing pain, we can safely administer a pain medication or sedative before taking the radiographs.
R.E.A.C.H. uses the latest diagnostic equipment to evaluate and monitor your pet’s health and well-being. Our highly trained and caring doctors, technicians, and staff are here to listen to your needs and provide quality care when an emergency occurs. Please contact us for more information on ultrasound, digital radiolgy and other procedures and services we can provide for your pet.