Radiology & Imaging Rooms in a Veterinary Clinic

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  • 0:02 Imaging Technology
  • 1:02 Radiology & Radiologists
  • 2:03 X-Rays & Cat Scans
  • 3:28 Ultrasound, MRI, & More
  • 5:01 Working in Radiology
  • 6:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will outline the most typical types of imaging techniques used in veterinary medicine and how you need to be careful around the most common one.

Imaging Technology at the Hospital

A client walks into a vet's office with a sick dog. The vet looks at the dog and tells the client, 'Your dog might have cancer.' The client is in shock. He says, 'I don't believe you. I want a second opinion, now!'

The doctor is all for it. He brings out a cat. The cat looks the dog over and meows in agreement, it's probably cancer. The client says, 'I still don't believe it. I want another opinion!'

The doctor nods and brings out a Labrador retriever. The Labrador sniffs about and barks in agreement, probably cancer.

That'll be $500 says the veterinarian. '$500!? For what?' asks the client, 'All you told me was that it might be cancer!'

'Yes, but it's $50 for my exam, $200 for the cat scan, and $250 for the lab test.'

Rimshot, please!

A CAT scan, a real one, will be discussed in a little bit as this lesson focuses on diagnostic imaging technology that might be found in the veterinary hospital you work at.

Radiology and Radiologists

Just about every hospital and clinic will have a part that deals with radiology. Radiology is a branch of medicine that uses sound waves, magnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation, and radioactive substances for the purposes of diagnosing or treating disease.

A person specializing in radiology is known quite simply as a radiologist. But only the largest veterinary hospitals commonly employ radiologists, who are board-certified specialists. Most smaller hospitals and clinics have veterinarians who, although not radiologists, are still trained in using radiology to diagnose common ailments and diseases in pets.

By the way, the term 'diagnostic imaging' encompasses more than the radiological techniques we're about to discuss in the following sections. For instance, endoscopy is a diagnostic imaging technique that uses a tubular optical instrument, called an endoscope, to see inside the body.

X-Rays and CAT Scans

And while not all veterinary clinics will offer endoscopy, just about every clinic you'll come across will have an x-ray room, where an x-ray machine is housed for x-ray radiography. I'm more than sure you know what x-rays are. They're those black and white images doctors look at when you have something like a broken bone, among other things, of course. X-rays (the x-ray images themselves, not the x-ray radiation that produces them) are technically called radiographs (or rads, for short).

X-ray machines use a kind of radiation, called x-rays (duh!) to produce the images you see. In some cases, contrast studies are performed using x-rays, where a dye (and even air) is used to help a veterinarian appreciate anatomical differences better than with an x-ray alone.

X-rays are also used by CT, or computed tomography, scanners that produce highly-detailed and even 3-dimensional images of internal structures. Another term for a CT scan is a CAT scan, or computerized axial tomography scan. Now you know for sure it has nothing to do with felines.

I should note that very few small clinics and hospitals will have a CT scanner. CT scanners are very expensive and usually found in large veterinary hospitals as a result.

Ultrasound, MRI, & More

Instead, smaller clinics more often than not rely on x-ray machines and ultrasound to help diagnose diseases in their patients because these machines are less expensive than a CT scanner. Ultrasound is the process of using sound waves to create an image. You're certainly familiar with ultrasound, as well, because it's the kind of technology that's used to peer into a pregnant mother's womb to get a real-time view of the baby-to-be. So, remember, ultra'sound' uses 'sound' waves to make an image.

Like CT scanners, MRI scanners are also found in larger hospitals. MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. This type of imaging technique uses magnetic fields to form images of the inside of the body. Like CT scanners, it helps to provide high-quality and detailed images of whatever is being scanned. Remember, 'M'RI's use 'm'agnetic fields to form an image.

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