What is Radiography?

An X-ray (radiograph) test is a quick and painless method used to diagnose many health conditions. The procedure involves exposing part of your body to a small dose of ionising radiation (X-rays). The X-rays travel through your body where they are absorbed at different levels by different tissues such as bones, muscles and organs. When the X-rays come out on the other side of your body they hit a photographic film and make a pattern of light and shade. The images produced are black, white and grey. We have a state of the art Computerised Radiography CR unit which produces digital images. This allows for images to be magnified and adjusted, to produce extremely high quality images. We are able via Diacom to link these images to our computer system, enabling the images to be accessed from all computer screens within all of our branches.

Why might my pet need an x-ray?

There are many reasons why your pet may need an x-ray at some point during his or her life. The most obvious reason would be after a trauma such as being in a road traffic accident where we want to check for any broken bones. Other reasons include:

Bone x-rays to look for deformities, growth problems, infection, fractures and to plan fracture repairs

Joint x-rays to look for damage, inflammation or arthritic changes

Abdominal x-rays to look at the soft tissues and organs for signs of disease

Chest x-rays to look for signs of heart or lung disease

Hip and elbow scoring for breeding purposes

Dental x-rays

What happens when my pet has an x-ray?

In most cases, a general anaesthetic or heavy sedation is required to perform an accurate x-ray in animals. This is because most pets, however well behaved, will not sit completely still in the required positions to obtain high quality diagnostic x-rays. In some situations (for example a cat which has difficulty breathing), we may take a survey x-ray with the animal fully conscious to remove the additional risk associated with an anaesthetic in these cases.

Animals are not allowed to be manually restrained for x-ray under the guidelines set down by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) for health and safety reasons.

Once your pet is stable under the anaesthetic or sedation, the vet will position your animal appropriately for the x-ray. It is usually necessary to take different views of the same part of the body - for example if we were taking x-rays of the knee joint we would need a "lateral" view (left to right) and a front to back view as a minimum. With limb x-rays we also usually need to take images from the opposite leg to use as a comparison.

Once the vet is happy with the x-ray positioning, they will adjust the exposure settings to obtain a good quality image. Once the x-ray has been taken it is developed in an x-ray processor. The final films can then be examined and evaluated.