Thanks to the advancements we’ve seen in technology over the years, CT scans and x-rays have become common not only for ourselves but for our pets too. For example, CT scans (computed tomography) are known for helping vets to assess important parts of the body whether it’s the spine or even the brain. During the process, various radiographic images will be taken and the final scan uses a reconstructed version of these images. Using fine x-ray beams, these reach the detectors and return signals to a computer which allows the image to be processed.
At first, the final image can look a little confusing to the untrained eye but veterinarians spend many years studying x-ray images. For the tissue, this is often, white, black, and what we call the ‘gray scale’. Depending on the shade of gray, this suggests the absorbency of the tissue to the x-ray beam. Therefore, abnormal tissues can be found within seconds and this helps to find concerns such as brain tumors within your pet. With the newer models, it can even provide a 3D image; also, thinner slices of the x-ray beams allow for an improved quality for the CT image.
Compared to traditional x-rays, it’s easier to differentiate between tissue with CT scans which is why they’re more common for spines and brains. At all times, the technician retains control of the gray scale; to make it clearer, they may also inject a contrast dye into the bloodstream. Since they’re only interested in certain parts of the body, the CT scan won’t superimpose the bone over the tissue.
If your pet is being considered for a CT scan, this suggests a neurological disorder whether this is changes in behavior, difficulty walking, or even seizures. Before getting started, the animal will be anesthetized (general) since it’s important they don’t move. When ready, the table will retract into the machine and this is known as the ‘gantry’. Using an x-ray tube, it’ll rotate 360 degrees around the animal to access all angles. Depending on the issue in question and its location, this will decide the number of images required. As soon as the information has been processed, the monitor will show an image which can be saved along with any others for comparison and to discuss potential solutions.
With a CT scan, a tumor should be visible and the exact location and size can be noted. For the surgeon and radiologist, this is essential because it allows the treatment plan to be effective and efficient. Using the CT scan as a guide, the vet can use a needle to take a biopsy of the tumor too and this improves the diagnosis while ensuring all the information is available for the surgeon. The more they know about the tumor, the easier their job becomes.
Unfortunately, despite the many positives, there are some drawbacks to the CT scan. For example, the quality of each image is reduced severely if the patient were to move. Furthermore, issues can also occur within the detector or x-ray beam. Finally, the professionals operating the machinery need to be highly-skilled and efficiently-trained for best results. These days, we have a very high standard of care in the veterinarian industry so you can be confident in their ability to suggest an appropriate solution to your cat’s problem!