I-20 Animal Hospital is excited about the installation of a new advanced Computed Tomography (CT) scanner (sometimes called a CAT scan for computed axial tomography). Our CT is similar to the equipment used in human hospitals. CT scans provide veterinarians with a closer look at a pet’s organs, muscles, bones or other internal body parts than is available through x-rays alone. Computed tomography utilizes rotating x-rays around a patient to make cross-sectional images and is an extremely rapid imaging modality. Modern CT machines can generate hundreds of these cross-sectional images as if the patient was cut like a loaf of bread in just seconds. With modern computer processing can now make both two- and three-dimensional reconstructed images from the acquired CT data. CT scans allow visualizations of internal organs and soft tissues that are often not detectable with routine X-rays.
For a CT scan, a patient must be motionless which requires a dog or cat to be sedated, or placed under anesthesia, positioned on a table that slides the pet through a ring containing the x-ray source and the X-ray detectors. These slices can be examined one by one to reveal the details inside. To enhance visualization of abnormal soft tissues and blood vessels, contrast agents containing iodine are typically administered intravenously as part of the scanning process. A CT scan can take a few minutes to an hour depending on the complexity of the exam, the size of the patient, and the number of body regions being examined.
After the CT scan is acquired the patient is awakened. CT images will be processed and reconstructed into three-dimensional and multi-planar reconstruction of structures using computer image manipulation providing exquisite detail for further interpretation by board-certified radiologists via telemedicine. In most cases, the pet is back with their owner before all the images have been reviewed and a final radiologist report is generated. Written results of the imaging studies are provided to the referring veterinarian managing the patient’s care within 24-48 hours of the imaging study. Digital copies of the CT scan are available for the owner and referring veterinarians.
CT scans are very commonly used in order to evaluate nasal diseases in dogs and cats, as well as orthopedic abnormalities, tooth, and periodontal issues, and multiple organ injury as can occur in a traumatic accident. CT scans can also be used to determine the health of a pet’s lungs, especially if they have a cancer situation elsewhere in the body and the veterinarian wants to determine whether there is any metastasis occurring. This helps the veterinarian understand the pet’s cancer situation and what treatment will be most appropriate for them. Needless to say, the detail that is provided through such scanning is invaluable in diagnosing a variety of physical conditions, and anomalies, and in planning for surgery. This can help to reduce or eliminate the need for exploratory surgery, which can be dangerous in certain situations. For example, pets with abdominal or thoracic tumors need to have those tumors excised wherever possible. A CT scan can help the veterinary surgeon understand the precise size and location of the tumor, as well as its relationship with other internal body parts, so they can plan exactly how to approach and excise the tumor safely.
Computed Tomography (CT) imaging will produce improved and enhanced ability for a diagnosis as well as a treatment plan for the patient going forward. Problems within the chest, abdomen, skull, and spine are especially suited to evaluation. I-20 Animal Hospital is one of the few animal hospitals in our area to have such a diagnostic machine dedicated solely to animals.