Diagnostic imaging is an enormous asset to both human and veterinary medicine. Over the last fifty years, the advancements made in this area of medicine have helped medical professionals both diagnose and treat various conditions that may have been proven difficult before. With many of the services provided at MVS, a CT scanner is a vital component that allows us to provide advanced imaging and decide the best course of action in your pet’s treatment. An added benefit of our CT machine is that it doubles as a fluoroscopy machine. So, let’s discuss what it is that these machines do, and what they contribute to veterinary medicine.
The Inner-Workings of the CT Machine
Computed-tomography, also known as a CAT scan, works by producing multiple images inside the body with x-rays and a computer. Many compare a CT scan to looking at one slice of bread within a whole loaf. The machine produces two-dimensional images of a “slice” or section of your pet’s body, but can also be used to create three-dimensional images. The computer then composites the data into an image that can be examined by our radiologist. These high-resolution images help us to better visualize things like the spinal cord, inner ear, nasal cavity and your pet’s organs. While a traditional x-ray machine still provides many benefits in diagnostic imaging, there are many parts of the body that we wouldn’t be able to see without our CT scanner. We use this machine to image several areas of the body, but the area that we probably use it on the most is with our IVDD (intervertebral disc disease) patients. For those patients, a combination of a myelogram (a test performed with contrast dye) and a CT scan allows us improved accuracy in locating the site of disc herniation in our IVDD patients.
What is Fluoroscopy?
While an x-ray, CT, and even an MRI capture still images, the purpose of fluoroscopy is to be able to see parts of the body in motion. When viewed, it looks like an “x-ray movie,” as an x-ray beam is continuously being passed through the body part being examined. This type of imaging is extremely useful for things like swallowing studies, gastrointestinal motility studies, urethral stent placement, and even fracture repairs. Our facility also has a mobile fluoroscopy unit (known as a C-arm) that allows us to use this imaging in our surgery suite intraoperatively.
What to Expect if Your Pet Has a CT Scan
In order for the CT machine to produce high-quality images, it is very important for the patient to be as still as possible while the scan is taking place. In human medicine, simply telling the patient not to move is generally sufficient. Unfortunately, this is not a method that is practical for dogs and cats, so sedation is necessary. While receiving a CT scan, your pet will be placed under general anesthesia with their vitals being monitored closely. A technician will remain with your pet the entire time so that they can be monitored closely. The images are produced shortly after the scan is complete, and our board-certified radiologist will interpret the images.