Our Babcock Ranch vets explain the purpose and benefits of PET/CT scans for your pet. Discover why your furry friends might require these scans and what to anticipate when you bring them in for a diagnostic imaging session.
Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging
Diagnostic imaging plays an enormous role in diagnosing and treating disease in both human and veterinary medicine. The advancements made in technology and imaging over the past years have aided tremendously in helping doctors diagnose and treat various conditions that may have been proven difficult before. As in human hospitals, a CT scanner is an essential diagnostic tool for our veterinary specialists here at Animal Hospital at Babcock in Babcock Ranch.
What is the difference between a PET scan vs CT scan?
A CT scan clearly shows your pet's organs, bones, and tissues. In comparison, a PET scan reveals how the body's cells function.
- CT and PET use different materials: CT scans pass X-rays through the body to create images. In contrast, A PET scan uses a radioactive material that emits energy that a special camera can detect.
- A PET scan takes longer. A CT scan can be performed in minutes, making it an excellent tool for emergency situations 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 a "CT" or "CAT scan," uses X-rays and a computer to create multiple images or "slices" of a specific area in the body. Think of it like slicing a loaf of bread into individual pieces. The slices are then combined to form a complete picture of your pet's anatomy. These images can also be used to create 3D models for tasks like planning surgeries. After the images are made, a veterinary specialist reviews and interprets them.
What are PET/CT scans used for in pets, and how is it beneficial?
The high-resolution images produced by the CT machine help us to evaluate your pet's anatomy in great detail - detail that we would otherwise not be able to see by using standard X-rays.
CT scanners provide excellent detail of bony and soft tissue structures in the body. The most common areas of the body we image here at Animal Hospital at Babcock using CT technology include the spine, the nasal cavity, the inner ear, bones/joints, and the chest/lungs. We can also use the CT machine to assess lymph nodes, the thyroid gland, abdominal organs, the skull/brain, and vascular structures.
A CT scan for your pet can be enhanced by injecting a contrast agent through their vein, revealing an improved blood flow area in the body. This helps find cancer and inflammation. Doctors use PET scans in humans to get a detailed look at how tissues and organs work, mainly for detecting and tracking cancer.
What to Expect if Your Pet Has a PET/CT Scan?
For clear CT scan images, it's crucial that patients remain as still as possible during the scan. While human patients can be instructed to stay still and hold their breath, this isn't practical for pets like dogs and cats. Hence, they require either strong sedation or general anesthesia to ensure a successful scan.
Your pet's vital signs are closely monitored during anesthesia throughout the entire CT. The CT scanner at our hospital is very efficient, and a typical CT scan only takes a short time. Following the CT, our veterinary specialists will interpret your pet's images and produce a detailed report with findings and diagnostic recommendations for your primary care veterinarian or the specialist vet who will be handling 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