Radiology or X-ray as it is more commonly known is a vital diagnostic tool and used extensively at Valley Farm. It can be used to diagnose problems with bony tissues such as fractures, joint issues as well as some soft tissue areas such as the lungs and abdomen.
High quality equipment, skilled technicians and experienced veterinarians ensure that the x-rays taken of pets give us the most information possible. There are instances where x-ray is not the best imaging technique to use, we are very lucky at Valley Farm to have a CT scanner for these cases, very often soft tissue, neurological cases.
Many x-rays are taken in emergency situations after a trauma such as a pet being hit by a car or after a dog fight. In these instances, it can be contra indicated to give sedation or an anaesthetic so a digital DR system that we have allows us to get high quality images and we are able to optimise the exposure digital should we need to.
Digital x-rays can be stored and emailed easily.
Computed Tomography (CT)
Valley Farm Animal Hospital is fortunate to own the only 16 slice CT scanner for pet’s in South Africa. CT is a specialised imaging technique but is non-invasive, fairly quick to run and very accurate diagnostic tool.
CT scans are very useful in that we are able to create 2 and 3-D images of soft tissues of the body (lung, heart, blood vessels, abdominal organs etc). They are particularly useful to demarcate cancerous growths in areas such as the nasal passages, mouth, chest and abdomen, and we use them to visualise very small defects in joints e.g. elbow fragmented medial coronoid process (FMCP). A CT scan uses X-rays to make detailed pictures of structures within the body, but unlike conventional X-rays, these X-ray beams are passed through the patient in the same location from a variety of angles to give a 3D image of the area. The X-ray data produced is manipulated by a computer, producing images (slices). The area of interest is shown in various shades of grey. Tissues of similar density can be distinguished, where as they would appear the same on conventional radiographs. Any area of the body can be scanned by CT. A radio-opaque dye may need to be used for some structures to enhance contrast between tissues. Although CT scans are a non-invasive method of visualising structures in the body, patients need to remain still during the examination, so are either sedated or anaesthetised.
At Valley Farm we have both rigid and flexible endoscopes. A flexible scope is basically a very long flexible video camera which can be passed into the digestive tract from the mouth or rectum or into the windpipe and lungs. A rigid endoscope is used to examine shorter areas such as the nose, ears and throat and bladder of a female dog.
An endoscopic examination is for very specific body areas and conditions so although not performed a daily basis the endoscope is an invaluable tool. Not only can we see what is happening in the organ such as an ulcerated stomach or growths, but we can also pass biopsy instrumentation through the endoscopy and take small tissue samples to assist with our diagnosis. Special grabbing and basket forceps also allow us to remove smaller swallowed or inhaled objects without resorting to surgery.
The procedure is minimally invasive, but dogs and cats do require a full anaesthetic. Gastro-intestinal endoscopy does require specific patient preparation to ensure that there is no food or faeces in the tract to obscure visualisation of the structures.
One such use of an endoscope is to give a definitive diagnosis in the case of dogs with Spirocerca Lupi in the oesophagus and to see how far this disease has progressed.