Two groups of patients are served by VSEC’s Diagnostic Imaging Service: those who are referred by their veterinarian directly to the Diagnostic Imaging service and patients who present to specialists or the emergency service of VSEC and require diagnostic imaging following consultation and evaluation.
The goal of the Diagnostic Imaging service of the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center is to provide the highest level of imaging tests and interpretation while maintaining consistent and effective communication with the client and referring veterinarian.
All diagnostic imaging tests performed at VSEC are supervised or performed, reviewed and interpreted by a residency trained radiologist and an official report is included as part of the patient’s medical record. This includes all radiographs taken at VSEC and all ultrasounds performed by the radiology service, as well as Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies.
The diagnostic imaging service is staffed 6 days a week at VSEC Levittown and Monday – Friday at VSEC Philadelphia, by a board-certified veterinary radiologist who is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVR).
Only Diplomates of the ACVR have completed a 3 or 4-year residency in diagnostic imaging and passed a series of national qualifying examinations. No other veterinarians have received as much rigorous and complete training and testing in the fields of ultrasound, radiography (x-ray), computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The most common reason that your veterinarian may refer you directly to the diagnostic imaging service is for an outpatient ultrasound examination.
Ultrasound is recommended in many cases of gastrointestinal disease (e.g. vomiting, diarrhea) or abnormalities suspected in the abdomen or thorax, based on physical exam, x-rays or laboratory testing (e.g. elevated liver or kidney values on routine lab work).
When you arrive with your pet at VSEC for an ultrasound, a nurse will take a brief medical history of your pet at the start of your appointment. The nurse will then escort the patient to the ultrasound suite. In most cases, the fur must be shaved to allow the ultrasound probe to obtain diagnostic images. We request that the patient is fasted for 12 hours before an abdominal ultrasound exam; this prevents food in the stomach or small intestine from obscuring important abdominal structures. We very rarely need to sedate the patient for the ultrasound exam.
The ultrasound exam typically takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Following the exam, we will escort your pet back to meet you and bring you to a consultation room with your pet. The radiologist will write a report, call your primary veterinarian, fax or email the report to your veterinarian and meet with you in a consultation room to discuss the findings and recommended plan. This whole process typically takes approximately one hour.
- Diagnostic ultrasound
- Abdomen – for GI disease or abnormalities noted on physical exam, radiographs or blood work
- Thorax – for pulmonary or mediastinal disease
- Neck – for imaging of lymph nodes, thyroid glands, trachea and esophagus
- Musculoskeletal system – for shoulder pain or other lameness
- Doppler Flow studies – to assess blood flow in lesions and organs
- Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspirates for cytologic analysis (microscopic evaluation of the cells in an organ or lesion)
- Ultrasound-guided tru-cut biopsies of masses or organs under anesthesia
- Diagnostic imaging interpretation of in-house or referral studies:
- Radiographs (x-rays)
- Computed Tomography (CT scan)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- On site MRI and CT
The radiologists at VSEC strive to provide and contribute to the highest level of specialized diagnostic testing and care for your pet. Please do not hesitate to contact a VSEC radiologist directly with any questions about veterinary diagnostic imaging.