In addition to being a standard in human health care, radiographs, or X-rays, have now become an important tool in the healthcare of animals. X-rays offer valuable information very quickly, in a non-invasive way by looking inside the body for signs of disease. Our on-site, modern X-ray equipment provides high quality radiographs to aid in the quick diagnosis of many disorders.
Discovered in 1895 by the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen, an X-ray is a type of electromagnetic energy that is carried in waves by photons. Basically, X-rays are giant cameras, they produce a very concentrated beam of electrons that travel through the air, to your pet’s body tissues, and creates an image on a metal film. Soft tissue such as skin and organs can’t absorb the high-energy rays, so the beam passes right through them. Dense materials such as bones, however, will absorb the radiation. If you look at an X-ray image, you will see black areas, where the X-rays have passed through soft tissues, and white areas where the denser tissues have absorbed the rays.
Parts of the body range in density, and this is where X-rays are the most useful as they make it easy to examine various organs and muscles inside your pet. Usually the lungs have very soft density since they are filled with air, while the silhouette of your dog’s heart, for example, will be easily seen on an X-ray since it is denser and will absorb more X-rays. However, if there’s fluid accumulating in your dog’s lungs (pulmonary edema) this can be quickly detected by the X-ray. Additionally, the size and shape of your cat’s liver, kidneys, and spleen can be properly examined on X-rays. Most often, we would be looking for cavities, abnormal swelling within a joint, and bone abnormalities. Dental radiographs are also important in finding abnormalities in your pet’s teeth.
Some pets are more cooperative than others when it comes to getting X-ray examinations. If your pet is particularly unaccommodating, sedation or anesthesia may be required. This is typically an added cost. Fortunately, an X-ray exam is relatively an inexpensive procedure. Development in technology has made the X-ray a widespread diagnostic tool for skilled veterinarian and veterinary radiologists to provide the best care for your pets. If you have any questions or concerns about X-rays, contact our office for more information.