Diagnostic Imaging

What happens when your pet is sick or injured and your veterinarian needs to have a "closer look?" Sometimes, veterinarians need to use medical imaging to find out what's wrong with your furry friend to give them the best care possible.  That's normal enough, but do you know what medical imaging is, what options exist in veterinary care, or how medical imaging affects your dog or cat? Read on to learn more!

What is medical imaging? ​ 

Medical imaging is a diagnostic tool that allows veterinarians to take pictures of your pet's organ systems in order to diagnose disease. A major benefit of medical imaging is that it is largely non-invasive, which means that no incision is necessary to produce an image of your pet.

Medical imaging may be recommended when a veterinarian believes there is a problem with your pet that cannot be detected using a basic physical exam or blood test, or to follow-up in response to abnormal findings.  

 Will my pet need anesthesia or sedation?

This depends on how nervous or painful your pet is during the procedure and to some degree on the type of imaging test performed. For most x-ray procedures, no sedation or anesthesia is needed unless your pet is in pain and such options make your pet more comfortable. Thorough ultrasound examinations typically require some form of sedation to ensure an accurate and complete imaging study can be performed. 

Does medical imaging always provide the final diagnosis?

That’s the goal, and occasionally it is possible to obtain a final answer from an imaging test.  For example, x-rays might reveal a fracture as the cause of a limp or an ultrasound examination might clearly show a bladder stone.  Many times, however, the results of multiple tests are needed to determine a diagnosis. In fact, imaging tests often reveal the need for a totally different type of test, such as a biopsy. As a pet owner, you should be prepared for a logical progression of fact-finding, through multiple tests, to determine a final diagnosis of your pet’s ailment.