Radiography is the correct term for viewing inside your pet using x-rays. X-rays are a form of ionizing radiation that captures focused images of an area of your animal. When a part of the body is captured, what you can see is based upon the density of the tissue next to it, sort of like black and white photos.
The use of radiographs is one of the diagnostic tools we have at hand to try to find out what is ailing your pet, be it a foreign body, broken bone, arthritis, bladder stones, abscessed tooth, chronic ear canals, an enlarged heart or hard or soft tissue cancer among many other possibilities. Sometimes radiographs can be used in succession to monitor a condition, for example radiographs taken monthly can monitor fracture healing or cancer progression. Because they allow us to get a lot of broad information they are considered one of the first two common steps in obtaining a diagnosis (the other is blood work).
When taking radiographs, to get the best image possible the image must be focused. The technique used to do this is to collimate, which means to narrow the x-rays to focus on the image in question. Because of the need to collimate we may need to take many images with your pet in many positions to get the needed information. Another reason many images may be needed is if your animal is very large and we simply can’t get the entire part into the image.
Most of the time, an animal isn’t going to sit still for an x-ray to be taken and it is not acceptable for humans to hold an animal still for x-rays (due to their exposure risks). Sedation and/or anesthesia is often required. This is often a good thing, as sedation in combination with analgesia (pain relief) will make an uncomfortable situation more bearable for the pet, especially if we are trying to image a painful area like a broken leg.
In the veterinary profession, just like the human medicine profession, there are board-certified radiologists to read the radiographs and provide a report. Because of their professional skills and equipment they often can pull details out of radiographs that could be important to the case and add to the outcome of your pet. Astoria Animal Hospital has the ability to send radiographs to these experts using electronic means for reasonable fees.
If your pet’s condition requires the use of radiographs, we understand it can add to the expense of veterinary care. Before we embark on any therapy, an estimate can be provided to allow you to prepare for the costs.