To help you understand why your four-legged family member may need a CT scan, our Boulder vets explain what CT technology is used for and what you should expect when you take your dog in for diagnostic imaging.
Diagnostic Imaging For Dogs
Diagnostic imaging plays an essential role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease in both human and veterinary medicine. The advancements made in technology and imaging over the past years have aided tremendously in helping doctors diagnose and treat various conditions that may have been proven difficult before. As in human hospitals, a CT scanner is an essential diagnostic tool for veterinarians.
What Is A CT Scan?
A computed tomographic (CT) scan creates a detailed still image of your animal's organs, bones and tissues. CT scans use x-rays that pass through the body to create images and can be performed in minutes making it an excellent tool for emergency situations when a vet needs to act fast. A CT scan shows signs of an issue after the disease has begun to change the structure of the tissues or organs.
How Does A CT Machine Work?
Computed tomographic imaging, ('CT' or 'cat scan') works by producing multiple individual images or 'slices' throughout a region of interest in the body through the use of radiation (x-rays) and a computer. A common comparison to an image produced by a CT scanner is individual slices of bread that make up a complete loaf. The CT machine produces two-dimensional slices of a section of your pet’s anatomy and then reconfigures them into a complete image we can view. These slices can also be used to create three-dimensional reconstructions that can be very useful for things like surgical planning. Once the images are produced, they are sent to your vet or a veterinary specialist to review and interpret.
What Are CT Scans Used For In Pets And How Is It Beneficial?
The high-resolution images produced by the CT scanner can help vets to evaluate your pet's anatomy in closer detail than they would otherwise be able to with standard x-rays.
CT scanners provide excellent detailed scans of bony and soft tissue structures in the body. The most common areas of the body scanned by vets using CT technology include your animal's spine, nasal cavity, inner ear, bones/joints, and chest or lungs. We can also use CT technology to assess your pet's lymph nodes, thyroid gland, abdominal organs, skull/brain, and vascular structures.
What Can I Expect If My Pet Has A CT Scan?
In order for a CT scanner to produce high-quality images, it is extremely important for the patient to be completely still while the scan is taking place. In human medicine, simply telling the patient to not move and to occasionally hold their breath is sufficient. However, this technique is not feasible for dogs, so sedation or general anesthesia is necessary.
Your pet's vital signs are closely monitored while under anesthesia throughout the entire CT scan. The CT scanners are very efficient, and a typical CT scan only takes a short time.
Following the CT, your vet or veterinary specialist will interpret the images produced by the scanner and provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition along with recommendations regarding the best course of treatment for your companion animal.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.