Our veterinarians at Gaithersburg are here to clarify the purpose and process of PET/CT scans for your pet. They'll explain when these scans are needed and what you can anticipate during your pet's diagnostic imaging appointment.
Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging
Diagnostic imaging is crucial for diagnosing and treating diseases in humans and animals. Recent technological advancements in imaging have greatly assisted doctors in identifying and managing challenging medical conditions. Just like in human healthcare, our veterinary specialists at Veterinary Referral Associates in Gaithersburg rely on a CT scanner as a vital tool for diagnosis.
What is the difference between a PET scan vs CT scan?
A CT scan produces a clear picture of your pet's organs, bones, and tissues. In contrast, a PET scan reveals how the body's tissues function at a cellular level, helping doctors understand their performance.
- CT and PET use different materials: CT scans pass X-rays through the body to create images. At the same time, A PET scan uses a radioactive material that emits energy which a special camera can detect.
- A PET scan takes longer. A CT scan can be performed in minutes, making it an excellent tool for emergencies when a vet needs to act fast. A PET scan can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours to complete.
- There is no radiation remaining in your pet's body following a CT scan, whereas after a PET scan, a small amount of radiation may stay in the body for a short period of time.
- PET scans show molecular activity that can help in the very earliest detection of disease. This is why a PET scan is a highly reliable tool for detecting cancer in people. A CT scan will show signs of an issue after the disease has begun to change the structure of the tissues or organs.
How Does a CT Machine Work?
Computed tomographic imaging, also known as CT or cat scan, uses X-rays and a computer to create a series of pictures or 'slices' of a specific body area. It's like slicing bread to make a full loaf. These slices form a complete image of your pet's body part and can even be turned into 3D models for tasks like planning surgery. After making the images, a veterinary specialist reviews and explains them.
What are PET/CT scans used for in pets, and how is it beneficial?
Advanced CT scanning generates high-quality images of your pet's body, revealing intricate details that standard X-rays can't show. At Veterinary Referral Associates, we use CT technology to capture clear pictures of bones, soft tissues, and various body parts. Common areas we examine include the spine, nasal cavity, inner ear, joints, and chest. We can also use CT scans to evaluate lymph nodes, the thyroid gland, abdominal organs, the skull, and brain, as well as blood vessels."
A CT scan can also be combined with a contrast agent that is given to your pet intravenously (IV), which allows us to see increased areas of blood flow in the body. This aids in the detection of cancer and areas of inflammation. In people, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans are used to give doctors a detailed view of how the patient's tissues and organs are working. PET scans are most commonly used to detect and monitor cancer.
What to Expect if Your Pet Has a PET/CT Scan?
To ensure the CT machine captures clear images, it's crucial for the patient to remain still during the scan. While human patients can simply be asked to hold their breath and stay still, this approach doesn't work for dogs and cats.
Instead, they require sedation or anesthesia. Throughout the CT, your pet's vital signs are carefully watched.
Our hospital's CT scanner is efficient, making the process brief. Afterward, our veterinary experts will analyze the images, creating a comprehensive report with findings and recommendations for your regular vet or the specialist overseeing your pet's treatment.Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.