What Is Imaging?
Imaging is a term we use to describe ways of looking inside the body, to help diagnose what is going wrong.
The types of imaging we have at Stapenhill are digital x-ray and ultrasound. Most people are aware of these two-imaging types as many of us have undergone x-rays or an ultrasound scan at some point. They are very useful and have different pros and cons.
X-rays are great at showing up hard structures such as bone, certain types of bladder stones or other hard objects our patients may have swallowed! They are also great for air filled areas such as the sinuses, lungs and intestines. They are not so good for what we call soft tissues, such as muscle, organs or fluids. These often appear as shades of grey and need careful interpreting. The other disadvantage of x-rays is they require our patients to be very still. This is often difficult to achieve so sedation or general anaesthesia are used.
Our digital x-ray is fast and produces great images every time, which cuts down the time our patients are under anaesthesia/sedation considerably. Our images are then stored and backed up digitally and can be sent to specialists at Pride Veterinary Centre if needed.
Ultrasound has come a long way over the last few years, allowing us to see more detail as well as some other clever tricks. Ultrasound is used a lot at Stapenhill as it allows us to painlessly look inside our patients, usually without sedation. Unlike x-ray, ultrasound is great at looking at soft tissue and allows us to see any abnormalities present. It is especially good with organs such as the liver, spleen, uterus (pregnancy detection) and bladder, but can be used to look at any part of our patient’s abdomen. It can also be used to look at the heart, take measurements and measure blood flow; all without any harm to the patient. The disadvantages of ultrasound is that the sound waves it produces cannot go through air or bone which means they can’t be used to look at the lungs or bones of our patients. That is also why we need to shave off hair before we do an ultrasound scan. Hair is very good at trapping air (which is why it keeps animals warm) which greatly affects the images we see.
Our ultrasound machine is able to see a lot of fine detail. They still take a trained eye to get the most out of them but we have a lot of experience!