As in human medical care, diagnostic imaging is a common and effective way to help diagnose certain conditions in cats, from broken bones to cancerous tumors. Whether a veterinarian uses an x-ray, ultrasound, MRI, or a CT Scan, each diagnostic imaging tool helps them see a clear picture of what’s going on inside your cat’s body.
If your cat is limping or suddenly has a palpable new growth, you might have found yourself online researching what is involved in a diagnosis. At Solano-Napa Pet Emergency Clinic, we work extremely hard to bring you the accurate information you need. We’ve taken the most frequently asked questions about cat diagnostic imaging and answered them as thoroughly and accurately as possible, so you have information you can trust.
What is cat diagnostic imaging?
Diagnostic imaging uses images to help diagnose a disease or injury. It includes ultrasound, x-rays, MRI, and CT scans. Diagnostic imaging helps a veterinarian collect more information to properly diagnose a condition.
How does the use of diagnostic imaging help to determine health issues in my cat?
Your veterinary team can use diagnostic imaging to help diagnose various issues with your cat, with each diagnostic tool used in specific circumstances.
Diagnostic imaging is used in the following ways to diagnose cat medical conditions:
- X-rays – Commonly used to confirm broken bones, as bones show up exceptionally well in x-rays
- Ultrasound – Used to diagnose an internal medical condition, enlisting soundwaves to photograph internal tissues and easily view organ function
- MRI – Shows detailed anatomic images and requires sedation of the cat
- CT Scan – Computer-enhanced x-rays that help evaluate complex parts of the body, showing different levels of tissue density, and requires sedation of the cat
What are some possible conditions that are diagnosed using cat x-rays?
X-rays are primarily associated with confirming broken bones, but this diagnostic tool plays a much broader role in diagnosing your cat.
Cat x-rays are used to diagnose the following:
- Broken bones
- Cancerous tumors
- Health and viability of teeth
- Intestinal issues such as a blockage
- Bladder stones
How does a veterinarian decide that a cat needs diagnostic imaging?
A veterinarian will determine if diagnostic imaging is needed based on your cat's symptoms. If they come in with an injured leg, they will most likely take an x-ray. If they come in with a palpable tumor in their abdomen, your veterinarian can use either an x-ray or ultrasound. Cat owners are generally great about communicating their cat’s symptoms to help a veterinarian with a diagnosis. However, regardless of the details they provide, the veterinary team still needs diagnostic imaging to confirm a diagnosis. That can include not only x-rays and ultrasounds but also possibly blood work and urine analysis. The Merck Veterinary Manual details additional diagnostic tests that they can use with diagnostic imaging.
Why is early detection and diagnosis of internal injury to your cat so important?
Early detection and diagnosis of any medical problem in your cat are critical to their well-being, quality of life, and longevity. We always want to identify a condition quickly and treat it effectively for the best prognosis. Dental disease, a wound, or a broken bone all need to be treated as soon as possible to ensure your cat’s long-term health.
If you have further questions about cat diagnostic imaging, reach out to your veterinarian. If you live in or near Fairfield, CA, we’d love to see your cat for any diagnostic needs, so please don’t hesitate to call us at (707) 368-3684.