An important part of restoring an animal’s health is treating the underlying cause, not just the symptoms. To do this, diagnostic tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans, and radiographs are often performed. At VSC we provide our doctors with the state-of-the-art equipment necessary to determine a disease’s origins as efficiently as possible. Diagnostic testing allows our veterinarians to create a treatment plan that fits your pets needs and targets the source of the disease.
Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy
A hyperbaric oxygen chamber creates an environment with increased pressure and provides pets with 100 percent oxygen. This increases the amount of oxygen to the animal’s tissues, which is effective in treating a wide range of conditions and can help to improve postoperative healing. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a comfortable, safe treatment option which can greatly impact a patient’s healing process.
Endoscopy is a minimally invasive technique that allows veterinarians to examine various passages in the body. It is an extremely useful diagnostic tool, enabling the veterinarian to visualize and sample any abnormalities which may be present. Endoscopy procedures can examine the gastrointestinal, respiratory, urinary and reproductive tracts, and can also be used to perform certain therapeutic treatments.
Computed Tomography (CT scanning) is an advanced diagnostic tool that allows veterinarians to create 2D and 3D images of the patient. During the scanning process a rotating x-ray tube creates cross-sectional images of the animal, which are then compiled in a computer to produce the images which the doctor sees. The most common cases where CT studies are needed are cases involving the spine, skull, joints, and tumors.
Radiography is one of the most common diagnostic tools used in veterinary medicine today. At VSC we offer digital radiography, allowing your pet’s images to be sent quickly and efficiently to any computer in our hospital. Digital radiographs can also be sent to a certified radiologists in seconds. Radiographs can be obtained without sedating the patient; however, if the patient appears to be stressed by the process, sedation can be given to help them relax.
The image produced on radiographs is a result of x-rays being passed through tissues of varying density. Denser areas of the body, such as bone and teeth, absorb more of the x-rays thus creating the whiter portion of the image. The darker portions of an x-ray represent areas of lower density that do not absorb very many x-rays, such as soft tissue and air. An image is created by the contrast between these different areas, allowing veterinarians to visualize internal abnormalities. Broken bones, irregular joints, enlarged hearts, intestinal obstructions, and tumors can often be observed using this method.
An ultrasound is a non-invasive technique which uses the reflection of ultrasonic waves to produce images. It is useful in evaluating heart conditions, changes to abdominal organs, and pregnancy. Ultrasound waves cannot pass through air or bone, so it is of little use in examining the lungs, brain, or spinal cord.
During the ultrasound, your pet will be placed on a padded lift-table by a veterinary technician. The area where the ultrasound probe will be used is shaved to maximize the contact between the probe and your pet’s skin. A gel is applied to the shaved area, and the probe is moved along the skin by the veterinarian as they watch a live image on the screen. Typically sedation is not needed to perform an ultrasound, unless a biopsy needs to be taken or an animal becomes stressed from the procedure. Any abnormalities noted during the ultrasound will be recorded and can be reexamined at a later date. Biopsies can be taken, as well as fluid aspirates of any masses found (an aspirate is a small tissue sample taken with a needle).
Echocardiography is a form of ultrasound which specifically examines the heart. The process is similar to the one described above, but the organ being examined is specifically the heart and surrounding arteries. During this test, an assessment of the heart’s valves, heart’s walls, and the heart’s blood flow can be made to help diagnose a patient’s heart condition.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a non-invasive, highly advanced diagnostic tool that creates a detailed cross-sectional image without using ionizing radiation like radiographs or CT scans. Using a powerful magnet to induce microscopic signals from the body, a computer converts these signals into an image the veterinarian can use to observe various parts of the body. To get this high quality image, it is required that the animal to be perfectly still, so the patient is put under general anesthesia for the scan.
MRI is especially useful in diagnosing diseases of the brain and joints, and spine, as traditional ultrasound and radiographs fall short in providing high quality images of these complex organs. It can be used to diagnose conditions such as brain tumors, strokes, spinal disk herniation, and traumatic injuries to the brain and spine. Creating a high quality image for veterinarians to examine allows them to give a more detailed diagnosis and form a more effective treatment plan for these kinds of diseases.
In addition to being extremely useful for neurological diseases, MRI is excellent in imaging bony structures, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It can be used to diagnose arthritis, ligament tears, tumors, cysts, sinus disorders, meniscus tears and even eye disorders.
Fluoroscopy uses the same concept as radiography, except it produces a moving image on a screen in real time (versus still framed images for radiographs). Our fluoroscopy unit at VSC is mobile, so it can be used within the surgical suite to minimize the invasiveness of a surgery. It is used to help place cardiac catheters, implant pacemakers, place urethral stents, treat tracheal collapse, and to perform airway examinations. By decreasing the time on the surgical table and the invasiveness of the procedure, fluoroscopy helps decrease a patient’s recovery time.