Radiography and Ultrasonography in Veterinary Medicine

Blog by: Dr. Jamie Senthirajah

At Paz Veterinary, we have capabilities of performing both radiography (x-rays) and ultrasonography on your pets. Although both can be utilized to observe organs/images WITHIN the body, they have two very different purposes in the medical field. However, they are both complementary, thus both may be needed to help us identify what is afflicting your pet.

Radiographs are obtained by shooting x-rays over an area of interest. Structures in the view have varying densities, so the images contain a range of black, grey, and white objects. Radiographs can be utilized throughout the body. But most often, radiographs are utilized to aid in the detection of bone abnormalities (e.g. fractures, arthritis, masses), to screen for abdominal and heart and lung changes. Radiographs are great in determining if there are any abnormalities in the chest as there is a normal spectrum of densities in the chest. In the abdomen, the organs within are all of similar density, thus, we use radiographs to give us a BROAD overview of the GI tract. However, the GI tract is full of organs which have similar densities, so unless something obvious such a foreign object (e.g. tennis ball) is noted, other imaging may be needed.

Good news for your pet is that we have another imaging device. Ultrasonography works by pressing a special probe (that has a fancy crystal in it) against the organ of interest. Sound waves are emitted from the probe and echoes occur when the sound waves hit organs of different densities and different velocities. The returning echoes are converted into electrical signals which will give us an image on the screen. This imaging technique is NON-INVASIVE and there are no health drawbacks in getting a scan. Ultrasonography can be used to detect sizes, shapes, and densities of the organs of interest and can also show abnormalities (e.g. free fluid in the abdomen, a sock in the stomach would produce an abnormal echo, thus abnormal image on the screen). Most ultrasounds are utilized to screen for abdominal>>heart, and musculoskeletal abnormalities.

If you’d like to see some interesting images from both of these techniques, let us know. We are happy to share the wealth of knowledge.

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