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PET/CT Scans for Pets

PET/CT Scans for Pets

Here, our Visalia vets discuss the differences between CT scans and Pet scans including what you can expect during the diagnostic imaging process and what this technology is used for.

Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic imaging is critical to diagnosing and treating a wide variety of conditions and diseases in both veterinary and human medicine. The advancements that have been made in technology and imaging in recent history have tremendously helped doctors diagnose and treat a range of conditions that might have been more difficult in the past. Just like in human hospitals, a CT scanner is an important diagnostic tool for veterinarians in Visalia.

The Differences Between PET Scans & CT Scans

A CT scan captures a still, in-depth image of your pet's tissues, bones, and organs, whereas a PET scan shows veterinarians how the tissues in a pet's body operate on a cellular level.

  • CT and PET use different materials: CT scans pass X-rays through the body to create images. Whereas, a PET scan uses a radioactive material that emits energy that can be detected by a special camera.
  • A PET scan could take anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours to complete. Where a CT scan can be done in minutes, making it a great tool for emergency situations when a vet has to act quickly.
  • There isn't any remaining radiation in your animal's body after a CT scan, but after a PET scan, a small amount of radiation might 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. A CT scan will show signs of a problem after the disease has started to change the structure of the organs or tissues.

How CT Machines Work

Computed tomographic imaging, also called a "CT" or "cat scan", functions by producing multiple individual images or "slices" throughout a region of interest in the body through the use of radiation (X-rays) and a computer. A common comparison to an image produced by a CT scanner is individual slices of bread that make up a complete loaf. The CT machine produces two-dimensional slices of a section of your pet’s anatomy and then reconfigures them into a complete image to view. These slices can also be used to create three-dimensional reconstructions that can be very useful for things like surgical planning. Once the images are produced, they are sent to a veterinary specialist to review and interpret.

What PET Scans & CT Scans Are Used For

CT Scans

The high-resolution images captured by the CT machine assist veterinary professionals in evaluating the anatomy of your cat or dog in great detail - details that can't typically be seen with standard X-rays.

CT scanners offer excellent details of bony and soft tissue structures in the body. The most common areas of the body veterinary professionals X-ray with CT technology include the nasal cavity, spine, chest/lungs, the inner ear, and joints/bones. Veterinary professionals could also use CT machines to evaluate the thyroid gland, lymph nodes, vascular structures, the skull/brain, and abdominal organs.

PET Scans

A CT scan can also be combined with a contrast agent that is given to your pet intravenously (IV), this allows vets to see increased areas of blood flow in the body. This helps detect a variety of cancer and areas of inflammation. In people Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans are designed to give doctors an in-depth look at the way a patient's organs and tissues are functioning. Most of the time PET scans are used to find and monitor various cancers.

What You Can Expect From Your Pet's PET/CT Scan?

In order for the CT machine to capture high-quality images, it's imperative for the patient being imaged to stay as still as possible when the scan is being taken. When it comes to people, it's usually enough just to tell them to hold their breath and not to move. Although, this technique can't be used for cats and dogs, making general anesthesia or heavy sedation essential.

The vital signs of your animal companion are monitored closely when they are under anesthesia during the entire CT. CT scanners are generally highly efficient, and a typical CT scan usually doesn't take very long. After the CT, the vet will evaluate the images taken of your pet and develop a detailed report with findings and make the necessary diagnostic recommendations.

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.

Contact our vets in Visalia today to find out if your pet needs a CT scan.

Compassionate Emergency Care for Pets

Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services is an after-hours emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs from Visalia and surrounding areas. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

(559) 739-7054 Contact