Diagnostic Imaging

Digital Radiology

Diagnostic Imaging InterpretationA very important technique used to diagnose injuries and surgical conditions in dogs and cats is through the use of radiographs or x-rays. South Paws Veterinary Specialists has purchased a new, state-of-the-art, digital radiology machine. Compared to x-rays produced by a traditional machine, the quality of digital radiographs is much better. However, not all digital x-ray machines are the same, nor do they give the same detail. It is important to have an x-ray machine that produces superior and detailed images.

Our Eklin / Sound machine is extremely accurate and is manufactured specifically for veterinary usage. This machine produces high quality images, allowing a higher probability of making an accurate diagnosis for your pet's condition. Since all the radiographs we take are digital, the time spent taking your pet's radiographs is significantly shortened and fewer x-rays are needed to achieve diagnostic-quality results. If necessary, our digitally produced x-rays can be sent via the internet to a board-certified veterinary radiologist and a diagnosis received almost immediately.

Radiology, the most common form of imaging, allows us to view the shape, size, and location of organs inside your pet's body. X-rays are extremely helpful for diagnosing and monitoring many surgical conditions. x-rays are useful in examining your pet's bones, lungs, heart, abdomen, oral cavity and other areas of the body. An X-ray can detect a fractured bone, cancerous tumor, heart problem and locate an obstruction or foreign body in your pet's stomach or intestine. X-rays and Ultrasound are often utilized if cancer or injury to internal organs is suspected.

Digital radiology is also beneficial to the environment because it does not require strong chemicals or film and it does not create fumes.


UltrasoundUltrasound is a pain-free, totally non-invasive technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce a real-time image of your pet's internal organs. Often considered more exact than radiographs, ultrasound provides a movie of what is happening inside your pet's body.

Ultrasound is used for a wide range of diagnostic procedures. It is particularly useful in viewing your pet's abdominal organs including the spleen, kidneys, liver, and gallbladder. Ultrasound is also useful in evaluating heart functions, bladder scans and other areas such as the thyroid glands, testicles and mammary glands.

Your family veterinarian may refer you to South Paws Veterinary Specialists because your pet is experiencing abdominal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, swelling, straining to urinate or urinating blood. Your pet may also be experiencing symptoms such as loss of appetite and acute or chronic weight loss. When radiographs are inconclusive or do not reveal the entire picture, an ultrasound is necessary. The doctors at South Paws utilize ultrasound to aid in the diagnosis and evaluation of many soft tissue surgical conditions.

Magnetic Resonance Imagery - MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imagery, or MRI, is a harmless, non-invasive, pain-free procedure that creates detailed images of the body and brain. Unlike x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) does not use ionizing radiation. All soft tissues can be visualized with MRI; however, dense bone and air are difficult to image with this procedure. MRI has been used in human medicine for several decades, and now veterinarians are using this technology to diagnose similar medical conditions in pets.

MRI is an excellent imaging tool. It provides exceptional detail, making it useful for imaging specific structures such as the brain, spinal cord, joints, abdominal organs and cardiovascular structures. An article in DVM Magazine, one of the most widely circulated veterinary journals, considers MRI as the best test for imaging soft tissues, especially the brain and spine.

General indications for MRI:
Brain - Neoplasia, infarcts, encephalitis
Spine & Spinal cord - Intervertebral disk disease (ivdd), neoplasia, myelitis, ischemic infarcts
Orthopedic - Joints, articular cartilage, ligaments, tendons, muscles
Oncology - diagnosis, extent of disease for determination of best surgical option

At this time, MRIs are mainly performed on animals to detect abnormalities in the brain and spinal cord. Brain tumors, herniated discs and spinal cord tumors are commonly diagnosed using MRI. MRIs are ideal for imaging the brain and lumbosacral area where myelograms are not effective The average scan takes between 20-60 minutes to perform, depending on the area of the pet to be imaged. A scan of the brain can take 2 hours.

Since your pet must remain still during the MRI procedure, general anesthesia is necessary.

At South Paws Veterinary Specialists, we use the MRI facilities of a local human hospital. Throughout the entire MRI procedure, your pet is carefully monitored by South Paws specialists.