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Nuclear scintigraphy is the use of small doses of radioactive substances to diagnose illness in humans and animals. A small dose of radiopharmaceutical will be administered to your pet and that substance will localize in certain organs of the body based on the type of study and radioisotope administered. The substance will then give off a small amount of radiation that will be detectable by a specialized camera, which in turn will display images on a computer screen. These images will help the radiologist determine the structure and function of specific organs in the body, and will help identify potential diseases in these organs. Three types of nuclear scintigraphy exams performed include:

  • Transplenic portal scintigraphy
  • Thyroid Scintigraphy
  • Bone Scintigraphy

Transplenic portal scintigraphy is used to identify abnormal blood vessels in and around the liver that disrupt the normal flow of blood from the intestines to the liver. These abnormal blood vessels are called shunts, and dogs with shunts can have abnormal liver function which can show up on routine bloodwork as well as more specialized bloodwork that your veterinarian may recommend. Dogs with portosystemic shunts can show signs such as abnormal mentation, failure to thrive, and increased urination and drinking, among others.

Thyroid scintigraphy is commonly used in the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism in cats as well as to help in the diagnosis and staging of thyroid cancers in dogs and cats.

Bone scintigraphy helps identify several types of lesions in the bones, including bone cancers, arthritis, subtle fractures, bone infections, and developmental bone diseases. Scintigraphy is much more sensitive than x-rays at detecting the subtle bone lesions and provides an easier means to look at all the bones in the body.

The small dose of radioactive substance administered to your pet is of relatively low energy and it is extremely unlikely to cause any adverse reactions in your pet. The radioactive substance decays into benign substances that are not radioactive. Your pet will stay the day with us to allow time for that substance to decay. In rare cases, your pet may have to stay overnight to allow more time for the radioactive substance to decay.

Your pet will be sedated for part of the exam. Sedative drugs carry a small, but real risk of complications, including, in very rare instances, death. Your pet will be screened prior to sedation and will be monitored during sedation to attempt to prevent any adverse reactions.

An intravenous catheter will be placed in one of your pets legs. This will require shaving a small area of your pet’s leg. In addition, if your pet is undergoing a transplenic portal scintigraphy study, a small area on the left side of the abdomen will be shaved. Transplenic portal scintigraphy requires inserting a very small needle into the spleen, which can, in rare cases, cause some bleeding. The risk of significant hemorrhage is very small, but occasionally, complications from such bleeding can occur. Our veterinarians take extreme caution during the procedure to prevent this complication from occurring.

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Diagnostic Imaging

Sometimes we are unable to determine from a physical examination what may be troubling your pet. This can be frustrating to you and uncomfortable for your pet. When this happens, we use state-of-the-art noninvasive radiology to help diagnose many pet illnesses and injuries. The specialists we work with, called radiologists, correlate medical image findings with other examinations and tests to help in the diagnosis of many disease conditions. We are committed to providing optimal care to our patients using state of the art veterinary diagnostic imaging. We also provide outpatient imaging services for veterinarians.

The radiologists at our hospital have completed a residency program and are board certified, just like our other specialists. A board-certified radiologist reads all radiographs taken at no extra charge to you.

CT scans allow visualizations of internal organs and soft tissues that are often not detectable with routine X-rays. X-ray computed tomography (CT) is a medical imaging method employing tomography created by computer processing. Digital geometry processing is used to generate a three-dimensional image of the inside of your pet’s body from a large series of two-dimensional X-ray images taken around a single axis of rotation. CT gives tremendous insight and accuracy into the diagnosis of nasal and pulmonary disease, as well as helping us to plan surgery.X-rays and CT scans help our veterinarians evaluate:

  • Musculo-skeletal system for bone and muscle disorders
  • Tooth, jaw, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems
  • Cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Gastrointestinal and digestive system problems
  • Reproductive organs
  • Urinary elimination systems

VCA Capital Area Veterinary Specialists is proud to offer excellent care with the following radiology services:

  • Ultrasound
  • CT Scan Evaluations
  • Radiograph Interpretation
  • Teleradiography

Our Diagnostic Imaging Services

Abdominal Ultrasonography Abdominocentesis and Cystocentesis
Computed Tomography CT Scanning
Digital Radiography
Magnetic Resonance Imaging MRI

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