When a dog has experienced specific types of injuries or symptoms then your vet may recommend diagnostic imaging to assist in diagnosing and treating your pet. Our Westport vets discuss veterinary diagnostic imaging and the uses and benefits of CT scans for dogs.
What is Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging?
Diagnostic imaging is a crucial part of veterinary care and helps provide information that can help provide your pet with the best care possible. The advancements 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 our veterinary specialists here at Westport Veterinary Associates.
What Are CT Scans For Dogs?
Computed tomographic imaging, also known as a "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 a veterinary specialist to review and interpret.
Why Might Your Dog Need a CT Scan?
If your veterinarian is concerned about a potential condition in your dog they will most likely run a series of diagnostic tests. Diagnostic imaging can be very beneficial for these situations, and while ultrasound and x-ray both have their benefits they are unable to provide the detail of the structures as a CT scan can. Some of the possible concerns and conditions that your vet might use a CT scan to diagnose may include:
- Nasal disease
- Head trauma
- Lung diseases
- Middle and inner ear disorders
- Orthopedic conditions, such as hip dysplasia and joint degeneration
- Brain or spinal conditions
- Dental disease, such as abscess
Your veterinarian may also use a CT scan after a cancer diagnosis in order to determine how much and to what areas the cancer in your dog has spread.
What Happens During CT Scans For Dogs?
In order for the CT machine to produce high-quality images, it is essential for the patient being imaged to be as still as possible while the scan is taking place. In human medicine, simply telling the patient to not move and to occasionally hold their breath is sufficient. Unfortunately, this technique is not feasible for dogs and cats, so heavy sedation or general anesthesia is necessary.
Your dog's vital signs are closely monitored while under anesthesia throughout the entire CT scan. The CT scanner at our hospital is very efficient, and a typical CT scan only takes a short time. Following the CT, our veterinary specialists will interpret your dog's images and produce a detailed report with findings and diagnostic recommendations for your primary care veterinarian or the specialist vet that will be handling your dog's treatment.
Your dog will be placed on a table that is used to slide your companion into the CT scanner. This machine looks like a large ring standing on its side. Your veterinarian will then take scans of your dog from all sides and angles in order to provide the most complete image possible. This may be performed on a single body part or for the entire body.
Your dog will wake up shortly after this scan is complete and the radiologist will utilize the images together in order to provide you will a comprehensive diagnosis.
Are There Any Side Effects to a CT Scan?
There are typically no side effects or concerns that arise from the use of CT scans for dogs. This makes this diagnostic tool one of the most useful allowing your veterinarian to examine the interior structures of your dog in great detail in order to confirm a diagnosis and create a treatment plan quickly.
The only potential side effects that you may witness will be from the anesthesia that your dog was placed under to perform the procedure quickly and safely and these effects should wear off relatively quickly.
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.