Q: What is a CT?
A: CT utilizes the same technology as x-rays to form images. The main advantage of CT over x-rays is it allows us to look at the body in cross section with higher detail. CT images can also be reformatted to make 3 dimensional reconstructions. CT examinations are most valuable when looking at bony structures or the lungs. It can also be used to look at soft tissues such as the abdominal organs. CT images are sometimes enhanced with the use of intravenous contrast agents.
Uses of CT
Q: How long does a CT take?
A: In general the CT scan takes 10-15 minutes. Anesthesia is required to keep your pet motionless during the study. However, CT is not painful, so only light anesthesia is required. Each CT is tailored to obtain the highest quality images with the least amount of anesthesia necessary.
Q: What is contrast used for and is it safe?
A: Contrast is given intravenously during the exam at the discretion of the prescribing clinician. It is given to patients during the CT to help determine the underlying cause for the patient’s illness. Contrast is also beneficial in helping to outline normal from abnormal structures in parts of the body such as the lungs, liver, spleen and bones.
Contrast in veterinary patients is very safe. Reactions to contrast agents used in CT are rare in veterinary medicine. Despite this fact, each patient is closely monitored for any potential reactions to the injection. Veterinary patients undergoing CT receive contrast during the procedure under the guidance of trained nurses and doctors.
Q: Who monitors my pet under anesthesia?
A: Your pet is a member of the family. Our goal is to provide as safe an environment as possible during your pet’s CT. Doctors, nurses and CT trained technicians are involved in the care of your pet from the minute you enter the hospital. Before, during and after the CT our patients are monitored by certified anesthesia nurses who are specially trained to deal with patients undergoing advanced imaging. Routine monitoring during anesthesia includes evaluation of respirations, heart rate, pulse ox (oxygenation) and blood pressure. Routine bloodwork and chest x-rays are performed prior to the CT to minimize the risks associated with anesthesia.
The CT studies are performed by an experienced radiology technician under the guidance of a radiologist. This allows us to acquire high quality, diagnostic images in as short a time as possible, therefore further minimizing anesthetic risk. The specialist is also involved in every step of the CT study from patient positioning and monitoring to study design and interpretation. We work as a team to provide the highest level of care possible for your pet.
Q: When are CT’s available and how soon can I get on if necessary?
A: CT is available for regularly schedules exams Monday through Friday. Advanced imaging at Pieper Memorial Veterinary Center is done entirely onsite. This allows us to offer imaging as needed on emergency basis during weekends, evenings and holidays. If you pet is having an emergency, contact your regular veterinarian or the Emergency Service at Pieper Memorial at (860) 347-8387.
If the specialist feels a CT is indicated for your pet the study can be performed as soon as the same day as your appointment. Ultimately, scheduling is based on the urgency of the test and your pet’s general health. It is our primary goal to have your pet as strong as possible to make them good anesthestic candidates. Routine bloodwork and chest radiographs are performed prior to anesthesia. In some instances the specialist may recommend further diagnostics or supportive care such as IV fluids prior to the CT.
Please remember pets must be fasted for anesthesia. If the CT is to be performed the same day as your appointment, your pet should not receive any food or water from 10pm the night prior to your appointment. This is crucial to limit complications such as aspiration pneumonia during anesthesia. Clients with pets with special needs (eg. diabetes or renal disease) should consult with their regular veterinarian prior to their appointment.
Q: Where are the CT’s performed?
A: All imaging (including MRI, CT, Ultrasound and digital radiography) is performed on-site under the care and guidance of our trained doctors and nursing staff.
Q: When will I have the results of my CT?
A: The specialist involved in your pet’s care will discuss the initial results of the CT examination at discharge. We will discuss further diagnostic or treatment options depending on the findings of the exam. CT’s are reviewed the same day by a board-certified radiologist and results are typically available the following day. Stat interpretations are also available as needed.
Q: How will my veterinarian know what is happening with my pet?
A: Your veterinarian has referred you to our care because they trust our ability to choose the appropriate diagnostic step and treatment protocol to suit you and your pet. However, your veterinarian is the primary caregiver for your pet. Therefore it is crucial that they are involved and informed during the diagnostic and therapeutic process. Your veterinarian will have the ability to view the CT images online. In addition when you discuss the results of your pet’s CT with the specialist you will receive a copy of the study to give to your veterinarian for your pet’s permanent records. Our goal is to work together to provide the highest level of care possible for your pet.