X-Ray (Digital Radiography)
Our diagnostics suite is located in our Dover surgery adjacent to our kennel rooms for easy transfer of patients.
Digital Radiography is a form of X-ray imaging, where digital X-ray sensors are used instead of traditional photographic film. The main advantage of digital x-ray is time efficiency through bypassing chemical processing and the ability to digitally transfer and particularly enhance images.
We can often x-ray animals the same day as the pet is presented in consultation, review the images and then proceed to surgery if necessary - a huge benefit when time is of the essence.
Our vets and nurses have access to and can use our x-ray machine 24 hours a day, so even in the case of night time emergencies, if a picture is needed we can take it. We have the capability to measure accurately from x-ray images to make sure our surgeons know accurately where to go in - a huge advantage in the case of foreign bodies in the gastrointestinal tract, or (like the x-ray to the right) in the case of a tortoise with a huge urolith (bladder stone) which was later surgically removed! After all, it is not easy to make an incision in a tortoise a little larger!
We have all sizes of x-ray plates for matching to the size of the animal or area we are capturing. Our x-ray machine is also capable of excellent detail meaning that we can view even the finest hairline fracture.
For our equine, large animal and zoo patients we have a portable x-ray machine which will capture images 'in the field' (quite literally sometimes!) and then upload them to our viewer back at the practice.
Our ultrasound machine is located within the diagnostics suite of our Dover branch. A hospital-grade machine, it is very accurate and provides good quality images for our vets to interpret.
Ultrasound can be used for pregnancy diagnosis in all sort of species. The image to the right is an ultrasound scan for pregnancy diagnosis in an armadillo! ..And yes, she was!
We also use ultrasound to look at internal organs and structures if there is concern about them - it provides a completely un-intrusive but accurate picture of what is going on inside an animal.
Animals are most often awake when the ultrasound is completed, though minor sedation may be required for the more wiggly patient! Completed by applying a gel to the skin and then running a probe over the skin surface to view the internal area, the procedure causes no discomfort to the animal, although they will need a haircut over the area to be scanned. We have even had some fall asleep during the process!
Imaging of the heart is one vital area where important diagnostic decisions are made and drug choice tailored to the particular case.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of the heart. The test is performed conscious as it is completely non-intrusive to the patient. Normally pads are placed on the animal, usually at the top each fore leg and in the skin fold back leg on one or both sides. These pads measure the electrical output of each heart beat and feed the information back to the machine, which in turn prints the heart's electrical activity as line tracings on paper.
An ECG reading is normally run for as long as it takes to get clear, accurate reading without interference - approximately 30 seconds or longer if required. During this time the pet will be resting and will be wondering what the fuss is about! In some instances a vet may wish to repeat the test throughout the day at intervals to check for irregular episodes.
The vet will then look at and often measure the waves on the ECG print out to determine if your pet's heart is working abnormally. They will be able to show you the print of your pet's heart if you would like. Results will often take a little time to be calculated.
Endoscopy means 'looking inside' and is used for getting a real look at internal structures and passages in finer detail than possible using x-ray and ultrasound. An endoscope is an instrument which contains a camera or viewing lens affixed to a long thin tube, which can be inserted via a body cavity into an animal. There are many different types of endoscope, and depending on the site in the body and the type of procedure, and the patient may be conscious or anaesthetised (depending on the procedure).
We have various endoscopes at our Dover surgery which fall into 3 types of scope:
Three flexible endoscopes of differing size are used to look into the respiratory and upper and lower intestinal tract, and other hard to reach places. As the name suggests, these are flexible and able to be manoeuvred by the vet using controls so they can access areas deep within the animal without causing any irritation. These provide a look inside to compliment xray/ultrasound, and prior to surgical intervention. Some of our endocopes are connected to a screen and provide a video feed, whilst others offer a manual lense for the vet to look down as they manoeuvre the scope.
Rigid endoscopy - A rigid and much stronger version of the flexible endoscope, rigid endoscopes allow a good look at larger, easy to access cavities such as nostrils, in search of foreign bodies or tumours.
Surgical endoscope - A much smaller, rigid endoscope which is used for looking into joints to observe damage or degradation following injury.