Computarized Tomography (CT) is an imaging technique that creates cross sectional pictures, detailed “slices” of your cat or dog’s body using X-ray beams. The information obtained is reconfigurated by computers and evaluated by radiologists. CT is a machine that has a round shaped hole in the middle. The ring around the table your cat or dog lies on moves back and forth to get images as small slices of the animal’s body for them to be examined with regard to the suspected pathology.
How are CT images obtained?
X-ray tube rotates around the ring and creates the X-ray beam. The two dimensional images are obtained with the X-rays. Later on, the computers assemble these images into a three dimensional picture.
Which areas of veterinary medicine is a CT scan used?
CT is used to detect any kind of pathology in the chest or abdominal cavity and is a very useful diagnostic tool. It reveals the shapes and dissemination of all abnormal masses in these areas. CT can also be used for a definite diagnoses of pathological conditions seen in ultrasound imaging of the abdomen and is more successful than any other method in the pathological findings of the lung.
CT is the primary imaging technique preferred to examine ossicles of the middle ear and soft tissue, as well as sinuses which are the air filled spaces in the head. It is very important to use CT scans in vestibular diseases of cats and dogs.
CT determines the borders of the masses to be removed by surgery, therefore helps better planning of the operation.
CT is especially useful diagnostically in small cats and dogs during scanning of linear objects when an endoscopic approach is not possible and in some cases the diagnoses of gastrointestinal cancers.
CT is also preferable in diagnosing cardiological pathological conditions in cats and dogs.
Will my cat or dog be sedated?
Thanks to recent technological advances, CT machines are able to scan the body very fast. Scanning is performed in 5-10 minutes, in some cases it might take longer. It is essential for the patient to remain stable so as not to repeat the procedure. Considering all this, sedation for a short period of time will be enough. After the scanning is over, your cat and dog will be administered another drug to recover consciousness.
Should I make any preparation before the CT scan?
Bearing in mind that your cat or dog will be sedated, you should not allow your pet to eat at least for 8 hours and not drink water 4 hours before your appointment. If there is any medication that your pet uses regularly or if there is any medical reason why your pet should not receive sedation, you should share the information with your veterinary. Depending on the area to be scanned, your veterinary might ask you to give your pet a medication orally before your appointment. Your veterinary can also ask for certain blood tests to be run. Your pet should not be wearing any metal (like a leash) during the scan.
Are there any health risks of a CT scan?
CT scanning is the most commonly used imaging technique in Europe and the United States. It is FDA approved and a very reliable diagnostic procedure. The radiation dose your cat or dog is exposed to during a single CT scan is negligible. Apart from this, there might rarely appear allergic reactions to paranteral administration of contrast media under necessary circumstances. One might observe intolerance reactions such as vomiting, dyspnea, erythema, urticaria, hypotension and even anaphylaxis. Under such cases, your veterinary will provide the appropriate treatment but in some advanced stages it might not be possible to repress these kinds of reactions. In patients prone to such allergic reactions, decision must be made by taking pros and cons into consideration.
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