The importance of X-rays

In recent years there have been great advances in the world of veterinary radiology (X-rays). As in the human world, many vet clinics have invested in digital radiography systems that have improved speed, quality and consistency of images.

As well as diagnosing typical problems such as broken bones, high quality digital images allow us to look “on the inside” of animals with more detail than ever before.

Indi was a 4yo Fox Terrier presented to us with a history of not doing well and “breathing funny”. Examination showed that her breathing was laboured and her lung sounds were harsh and more muffled than usual. Blood tests were fairly unremarkable, but there was a clue in that her blood protein levels were reduced showing that she may be losing protein somewhere in her body.

The attending vet elected to perform chest rays immediately. Images showed a large amount of free fluid in the chest (pleural effusion) and an abnormal structure involving the right lung.

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A huge amount of fluid (400ml) was drained from the chest via thoracocentesis, a technique where fluid is sucked out of the chest using a needle and syringe. Analysis of the fluid allowed us to make a list of potential diagnoses and helped us to decide on what to do next.

A visit from the specialist veterinary ultrasonographer led to a very unusual (and serious) diagnosis of lung lobe torsion, a twisted lung. Indi was immediately referred to Massey University for specialist open-chest surgery in which the affected lung lobe was removed.

Indi recovered well from the surgery and is having regular check-ups and follow-up x-rays to monitor her progress. She has had to have more fluid removed from her chest since surgery and we are watching her carefully.

Indi’s case was a great example demonstrating how having digital radiology has allowed us to diagnose a range of unusual problems quickly and more cost effectively than ever before.


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