To help you understand why your four-legged family member may need a CT scan, our Upland vets explain how CT technology is used and what you should expect when you take your dog for diagnostic imaging.
Diagnostic Imaging for Dogs
In veterinary medicine, the use of diagnostic imaging techniques such as computerized tomography (CT) is absolutely necessary for both the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. The advancements in technology that have occurred over the years have helped veterinarians diagnose and treat a variety of conditions that they may not have been able to treat in the past. One tool that helps veterinarians do this is a CT scanner.
What is a CT scan?
A CT scan will produce a detailed image that is still of your dog's organs, bones, and other tissues.CT scans only take a few minutes to complete, which makes them ideal for use in urgent situations. These scans generate images by transmitting X-rays through the body.After a disease has started to change the structure of the tissues or organs, a CT scan may be able to show signs of the disease on the patient. Following a CT scan, there will be no lingering radiation in the body of your pet.
How does a CT machine work?
X-rays and a computer are used in the process of performing a CT scan, which results in the production of multiple individual images of the target region, which are sometimes referred to as "slices." One common analogy that people use to describe the individual slices that make up a CT scanned image is that of individual bread slices that make up a loaf. The computed tomography machine will first generate 2D slices of a section of your dog's body, and then it will rearrange those slices into a complete picture.
These slices can also be used to create three-dimensional reconstructions, which are extremely helpful for things like the planning of surgical procedures. After the images have been created, they are delivered to your family veterinarian or to a veterinary specialist so that they can be analyzed and interpreted.
Why do dogs need CT scans?
The most common reason your veterinarian may recommend a CT scan for your dog is if they suspect there's a problem and need a clearer picture of what it is. A CT scan, with its detailed image of your dog's interior, lets your veterinarian better diagnose potential issues and administer the appropriate treatment plan.
How are CT scans for dogs beneficial?
Traditional X-rays aren't able to capture the same level of anatomical detail that a CT scanner can, which enables veterinarians to make more informed diagnoses about your dog's health.
CT scanners deliver excellent and detailed scans of bony and soft tissue structures within the body of your dog. Your dog's chest, lungs, inner ear, nasal cavity, and inner ear are some of the most common areas that veterinarians scan using CT technology. Other common areas include the spine. It is also possible for veterinarians to use CT technology to evaluate the lymph nodes, thyroid gland, abdominal organs, skull and brain, and vascular structures of your dog.
It is also possible to combine a CT scan with the administration of a contrast agent to your dog intravenously (IV), which will enable your veterinarian to see areas of the body with increased blood flow. This is an excellent method for locating areas of inflammation and cancerous growths.
What to expect when your dog has a CT scan
It is likely that your veterinarian will advise you to refrain from giving your dog any food or water the night before the scan. This helps to obtain an image that is as clear as it possibly can be. In addition to this, the dog must remain absolutely motionless throughout the entire scanning process. This indicates that either deep sedation or general anesthesia will be necessary.
During the entire CT exam, the vital signs of your dog, who is under anesthesia, are subject to careful monitoring. Because the CT scanners are so effective, the process of getting a CT scan typically only takes a few minutes.
After your dog has undergone a computed tomography (CT) scan, your family veterinarian or a veterinary specialist will analyze the images, provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your dog's condition, and make recommendations regarding the most effective treatment plan for your pet.
Average Cost of a CT Scan for Dogs
The price of a CT Scan for dogs usually varies depending on a number of factors. If you're curious, it's best to contact your vet or specialist directly. They should be able to give you a more accurate estimate.
Note: This article is for informational purposes only. Inland Valley Veterinary Specialists does not offer CT scans at this time.