Our Memphis radiologist discusses the uses and benefits of a CT scanner in veterinary medicine.
Diagnostic imaging plays an enormous role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease in both human and veterinary medicine. The advancements made 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 here at Memphis Veterinary Specialists that helps us day to day.
How Does a CT Machine Work?
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 the radiologist (myself) to review and interpret.
What is a CT scan used for in pets and how is it beneficial?
The high-resolution images produced by the CT machine help us to evaluate your pet's anatomy in great detail, detail that we would otherwise not be able to see with just standard x-rays. CT scanners provide excellent detail of bony and soft tissue structures in the body. The most common areas of the body we image here at MVS with the CT include the spine, the nasal cavity, the inner ear, bones/joints, and the chest/lungs. We can also use the CT machine to assess lymph nodes, the thyroid gland, abdominal organs, the skull/brain, and vascular structures. A CT scan can also be combined with a contrast agent that is given to your pet intravenously (IV), which allows us to see increased areas of blood flow in the body. This aids in the detection of cancer and areas of inflammation.
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 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 pet's vital signs are closely monitored while under anesthesia throughout the entire CT. The CT scanner at our hospital is very efficient, and a typical CT scan only takes a short time. Following the CT, I will interpret your pet's images and produce a detailed report with findings and diagnostic recommendations for the attending clinician overseeing your pets care.