Radiology (X-rays) is routinely used to provide valuable information about a pet’s bones, gastrointestinal tract (stomach, intestines, colon), respiratory tract (lungs), heart, and genitourinary system (bladder, prostate). It can be used alone or in conjunction with other diagnostic tools to provide a list of possible causes for a pet’s condition, identify the exact cause of a problem or rule out possible problems.
When a pet is being radiographed, an X-ray beam passes through its body and hits a radiographic cassette. Images appear on the computer screen as various shades of grey and reflect the anatomy of the animal. Bones, which absorb more X-rays, appear as white structures. Soft tissues, such as the lungs, absorb fewer X-rays and appear as dark grey structures. Interpretation of radiographs requires skill on the part of the vet.
Unlike in humans, animals require sedation or a general anaesthetic, for radiography to be performed safely.
Ultrasound is an imaging technique in which deep structures of the body can be visualised by recording echoes of ultrasonic waves which are directed into the tissues. The principal involves directing a narrow beam of high frequency sound waves that may be transmitted through, reflected off or absorbed by the tissue toward which they are pointed, depending on the nature of the surface they strike.
The technique is invaluable for the examination of internal organs and was first used in veterinary medicine for pregnancy diagnosis. However the technique is also extremely useful for evaluating heart conditions and also identifying size and changes in organs in the abdomen. It therefore has an important place in the diagnosis of cysts and tumours.
The great advantage of ultrasound is that anaesthesia is usually unnecessary. The technique is non-invasive but does involve clipping an area of hair and applying a water soluble jelly so that good contact can be made between the probe and the skin. The technique is totally painless and most animals will lie quite comfortably while the scan is being carried out. Occasionally if patients are very frightened or fractious, a sedative may be necessary.
We have in house laboratory facilities which allow us to carry out a wide range of blood tests, urine tests and microscopic examinations. Results can often be reported back to the owner the same day.
Blood tests include such things as the assessment of important liver and kidney functions, blood glucose and electrolytes (sodium, potassium and chloride). Red and white blood cell numbers are important indicators of health and certain disease conditions.
These tests are used in providing essential diagnostic information, in monitoring ongoing conditions and in assessing fitness to undergo anaesthetic and surgical procedures. Urine samples can be rapidly checked for indications of diabetes, reduced kidney function and other problems. Microscopic examination of skin and hair samples will often provide specific diagnostic information.
When more specialised tests are needed we will refer directly to a veterinary laboratory with results returned rapidly by e-mail.