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Diagnostic Imaging

In an effort to provide your pet with superior medical care, we perform diagnostic imaging services to supplement prognosis. Medical imaging employs the use of machinery to give photographic representation of abnormalities or injuries. In performing diagnostic imaging, our veterinarian can provide safe, accurate diagnosis and promptly treat the problem. Diagnostic imaging is also used to certify wellness as in the case of pre-evaluation of sports prospects or for breeding screenings. 

Reasons for diagnostic imaging: 

  • Assess for structural causes of pain, instability, or dysfunction (as in the case of evidence of osteoarthritis changes, collapsed disc spaces, etc) 
  • Determine the location of broken bones or bone fractures
  • Evaluate for possible cancer lesions and assess for spread
  • Evaluate for underlying musculoskeletal conditions that would help with early detection and treatment
  • Assess for fitness for certain sporting activities
  • Screen for congenital conditions that might deem an individual unfit for breeding

Types of diagnostic imaging

Digital X-rays - Radiographs (X-rays) are usually the first test administered to evaluate your pet. Our office utilizes digital X-rays because they are more accurate and display a higher contrast. Because of their accuracy, technicians are able to take fewer images resulting in less pet discomfort. Digital X-rays also project less radiation than traditional X-rays, which allows your pet to avoid unnecessary exposure. 

Specific X-ray evaluations that we offer inlcude:

  • OFA Hip, Shoulder, and Elbow evaluations- These evaluations look for structural abnormalities that have a high genetic predisposition. This test is often one of the first steps at evaluating a patient for breeding purposes, but can also be used to assess for orthopedic disease and thereby start a treatment program for affected individuals. 
  • PennHip evaluation- This evaluation measures the specific laxity (looseness) in the hip joints. It is an objective and effective test to evaluate patients both for breeding purposes and to assess for future hip arthritis risk. Early detection and treatment of hip dysplasia in affected patients can ultimately result in a better prognosis for many patients, than if the disease was to go undetected until advanced arthritis develops. 

Ultrasound - Ultrasounds are another form of 3D imaging. This diagnostic is perfect for pets in sensitive situations (e.g. pregnancy), pets that might be suffering immense pain, or pets who are partially immobile. Ultrasounds are very gentle and are typically used to examine soft tissue structures. Musculoskeletal ultrasound can help to evaluate for muscle, tendon, or ligament damage where X-rays are often less useful. 

What does diagnostic imaging involve?

The process for getting images of your pet depends on what type of diagnostic that is being performed and the size of your pet. For smaller pets, images are often taken with the pet lying down in various positions that allow our veterinarians to examine the problem area.

Pets with a disease or condition often feel increased anxiety and stress. Because of this stress, they can be uncooperative during digital imaging procedures. If a patient is undergoing diagnostic imaging due to an injury or lameness, the body part being examined is also often painful. Given that the tests require a patient to be still and for limbs to be placed in specific positions, twilight sedation is generally necessary to perform X-ray testing.  PennHip evaluations required twilight sedation/light anesthesia regardless of patient fitness status. 

If you have any questions about digital imaging services, please feel free to contact our office.


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