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In this, X-rays pass through a three-dimensional body which is then shown in two dimensions.

Because of the different X-ray density of contrast agents/metal, bone, muscles/organs, fat and air, a grey-scale image is obtained on which structures within the body can be assessed. If the differences in density are insufficient, contrast agents can be used for better imaging of organs or cavities.

Diagnostic X-ray is a rapid and widely available method and is still highly valuable. Because it can be performed simply without anaesthesia, this investigation technique is preferred for emergency/trauma diagnosis and as a screening method. An X-ray image is very suitable for documentation and later evaluation (as part of a breeding soundness examination, examination for hip dysplasia, follow-up in cardiac patients). The radiation exposure for examiner and patient can be greatly reduced thanks to new X-ray machine technology and digital image acquisition and processing.
X-ray’s greatest importance is in examining bony structures, e.g., fractures.

Diagnosis of organs in the chest is another important area of X-ray diagnostics. The brief time needed (0.01 – 0.1 sec) often allows organs to be imaged without being blurred by breathing and with good contrast (an animal can‘t be told to “breathe in and hold your breath”!).

Other imaging methods are used nowadays in addition or as an alternative:

A computed tomography (CT) scan is often performed to look for tumours or metastases or for specific investigation of spinal, bone and joint diseases or chest diseases. This X-ray-based cross-sectional imaging method can usually only be performed under anaesthetic.

Heart disease is today investigated very largely by echocardiography (cardiac ultrasound).

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is becoming increasingly important for brain and spinal diseases, including in veterinary medicine.

© AniCura, Dr. Beate Bosch & Dr. Franz Xaver Lutter

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