We offer several types of imaging to help guide the diagnosis and treatment of your pet. We are the only veterinary clinic in Billings, MT that has a in-house CT scanner. In addition, we offer traditional radiographs (x-rays), ultrasound, and endoscopy. We have the capability of easily submitting images electronically to board certified radiologists for expert interpretation.
Computed Tomography (CT) Scanner
At Best Friends Animal Hospital, we utilize a Toshiba Aquilion 16 slice helical computed tomography (CT) machine. A CT works by using rotating x-ray technology to take multiple cross sectional pictures that represent slices of a patient’s body. These images are viewed individually and can be combined together for a three dimensional model.
We utilize the CT scanner most commonly to image the spine and head but is also used for the abdomen, chest, and musculoskeletal system. This scanner allows us to rapidly visualize complex regions of the body and develop the best possible treatment plans. The three dimensional images are very helpful aids for making the CT findings more understandable to clients.
Our CT scans are read by Dr. Ken Waller, a veterinary radiologist at the University of Wisconsin and results are available the next day (or sooner if requested).
Radiographs, or X-rays, are one of the most common and useful diagnostic tools in medicine because of their ability to penetrate tissues and show your pet’s organs and bones. We use digital X-rays to examine your pet’s bones, lungs, heart, abdomen, oral cavity and other areas of the body, and for diagnosing and monitoring many medical and surgical conditions. If we suspect your pet has a fractured bone, has swallowed a foreign object, or is suffering from a heart problem, an X-ray can give us valuable information so we can begin treating your family member.
All of our x-rays (regular and dental) are all digital. Digital images are the highest quality and we can zoom in and adjust the contrast, if necessary, to get the best image. Digital images are generated very quickly – in approximately 3 seconds, compared to 3-5 minutes per film with a regular processor. This helps us with efficiency and decreases the amount of time your pet stays for radiographs. All images are stored on our PACS server and are easily retrieved within seconds. We can quickly send the images for consult with a radiology specialist, as opposed to a week or more turn-around time with standard films. This is especially important for emergency cases. As a bonus, digital x-rays are much more environmentally friendly – we don’t have any chemical processing waste!
Below are images of a dog’s fractured leg, puppies in a pregnant female dog, and a turtle who ate some foreign objects:
Ultrasound is a wonderful non-invasive way to give us information about internal body structures and systems. Ultrasounds use safe sound waves to give us a picture of the internal organs, without having to expose the patient to radiation. Ultrasound allows us to visualize many things that can’t be seen with traditional radiographs (x-rays) because fluid and tissue have the same density on x-rays. On ultrasound, however, tissues and fluid look very different and can allow us to visualize abdominal organs, reproductive systems, the heart and the eye. Another benefit is that ultrasounds are painless, and can be done in awake non-sedated patients most of the time. Not all veterinary practices utilize ultrasound machines, due to the expense and skill required to operate them. We are happy to offer this service if needed to all patients. If needed, we can easily send the images electronically to a board certified radiologist for an expert opinion.
Radiographs are still superior for visualizing bone tissue and often we will use both radiographs and ultrasound to get the most information about what is happening in your pet.
We are equipped with both flexible and rigid endoscopy. An endoscope is a lighted instrument with a camera on one end that submits an image to a viewing screen. The scope has attachments for grabbing and sampling. At Best Friends Animal Hospital, we use our endoscope for a variety of reasons. The most common use of our rigid endoscope is removing foreign objects (often grass awns) from the nasal cavity. Our flexible endoscope is most commonly used to look down the esophagus and stomach for abnormalities, to remove foreign objects, or to take biopsies. We also use the flexible endoscopy for colonoscopies. The best thing about the endoscope is that it allows us to visualize, sample, and manipulate areas with the least amount of invasiveness.
Below is the picture of a large stick removed from deep in this patient’s esophagus with the aid of our flexible endoscope: