CT is the new X Ray

pet CT scanner

Computed Tomography (CT) is a very useful imaging modality and is becoming increasingly popular within the veterinary profession. At Northwest Surgeons we have had our own onsite CT scanner for 10 months and have scanned over 400 patients. CT scanning can be used to aid diagnosis in all our specialist disciplines, and is an essential tool for our new oncology referral service.

CT scanning uses x-rays, a powerful form of electromagnetic energy. It combines x radiation and radiation detectors coupled with a computer to create cross sectional images of any part of the body, producing a 3D image. The x ray beam moves 360 ̊ around the patient, scanning from hundreds of different angles enabling the 3D image to be produced.  Plain x ray produces a 2D/ flat image.

The patient is placed onto the table which travels through the gantry where the x-ray tube and detectors are positioned. The selected part of the patient’s body is then scanned.

CT Procedures at NWS

The patient arriving at NWS for a CT scan is admitted by the clinician or nurse and has a full examination, either by our specialist anaesthetist or by the intern, who then consults with the anaesthetist. Blood sampling is routinely carried out prior to anaesthesia. All of our patients having a CT scan are either sedated or anaesthetised because they need to be perfectly still for the duration of the scan. They are then positioned correctly on the table in the scanner and the CT can begin.

The patients are closely monitored using capnography, pulse oximetry, blood pressure monitoring and ECG. The actual scan is a quick procedure, once carried out, any post CT procedures can be performed such as ultrasound guided biopsies, endoscopy or sending the patient for a surgical procedure if indicated.

Our CT room is specially lead lined so that the radiation is contained. This means we cannot be in the scan room during the scan. There is no radiation risk to the patient, but for our colleagues who scan several patients a day exposure must be carefully monitored.

CT scans are performed by our imaging technicians, who are all fully qualified veterinary nurses. Our radiologist supervises all of our imaging modalities, providing consultant level input to scan selection to ensure optimal imaging for each patient.

This blog was written by Monique Jones, RVN.