William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Photo: Hemotology Image
An animal Health Technician, gives "Torro" his hemodialysis treatment for an acute kidney injury. Torro, a Belgian Malinois breed, is a working police and narcotics detection dog that was sent from the Waco, TX police force for treatments at the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Hemodialysis Facility located in the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Clinical Activities & Procedures

Computed tomography (CT)

Photo: CT Skull
Photo: CT Lungs

Computed tomography (CT) uses x-rays to produce multiple images of the inside of the body, and provides thin, cross-sectional "slices" for viewing. CT scans of internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels provide much more detail than conventional x-rays. Radiologists use this specialized equipment and expertise to diagnose problems such as cancer, abnormalities of blood vessels, trauma, and musculoskeletal disorders.

CT imaging is:

  • one of the best tools for studying the chest and abdomen because it provides detailed, cross-sectional views of all types of tissue.
  • often the preferred method for diagnosing many different cancers, since the image allows a veterinarian to confirm the presence of a tumor and measure its size, precise location and the extent of the tumor's involvement with other nearby tissue.
  • invaluable in diagnosing and treating spinal problems and injuries to the skeletal structures because it can clearly show even very small bones as well as surrounding tissues such as muscle and blood vessels.

Veterinary radiologists often use the CT examination to:

  • diagnose cancer of the lungs and nasal cavity
  • diagnose abnormal bloods vessels in the liver
  • diagnose disorders of the abdomen such as kidney stones
  • diagnose disorders of bones and joints such as elbow dysplasia
  • plan and properly administer radiation treatments for tumors
  • guide biopsies and other minimally invasive procedures
  • plan surgery

MR imaging

Photo: MR

MR imaging uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, and other internal body structures. The images can then be examined on a computer monitor or printed. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays), but detects the motion of protons that are normall present in the body.

Detailed MR images allow veterinary radiologists to better evaluate parts of the body and certain diseases that may not be assessed adequately with other imaging methods such as x-ray, ultrasound or computed tomography (also called CT or CAT scanning).

Currently, MRI is the most sensitive imaging test of the head (particularly in the brain) in clinical practice.

MR imaging is performed to help diagnose:

  • tumors and inflammatory diseases of the brain and spinal cord
  • disorders of the eyes and the inner ear
  • disease in the pituitary gland
  • other disorders of the head and skull
  • disorders of bones and joints
  • diagnosis of lameness

Nuclear Scintigraphy

Photo: Scintography

Nuclear scintigraphy uses very small, tracer amounts of radioactive molecules to diagnose diseases involving bone, soft tissues and vessels. We can attach these molecules to agents that bind to bone lesions, soft tissue tumors and sites of infection. This very sensitive technique can often diagnose diseases not visible with other imaging methods.

The radiotracer eventually collects in the area of the body being examined, where it gives off energy in the form of gamma rays. This energy is detected by a device called a gamma camera. These devices work together with a computer to measure the amount of radiotracer absorbed by your body and to produce special pictures offering details on both the structure and function of organs and other internal body parts.

Nuclear scintigraphy is used to diagnose

• portosystemic shunts 
• kidney function 
• distribution of cancer in the body
• thyroid disease


Radiography (digital)

Radiographs, or x-ray studies, use a very short burst of x-rays to create an image of the body. Small animal radiology is equipped with digital radiography systems that capture the radiograph without the use of film. Radiographs are used to diagnose disease in the chest, abdomen and musculoskeletal system. We also perform many special studies such as contrast studies of the gastrointestinal and urinary tract to diagnose obstructions. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of veterinary medical imaging.

An x-ray is typically the first imaging test used to help diagnose problems such as:

  • trouble breathing 
  • cough 
  • trauma 
  • fever

Veterinarians use the examination to help diagnose or monitor treatment for conditions such as:

  • pneumonia 
  • heart failure and other heart problems 
  • cancer 
  • other medical conditions

Ultrasound

Photo: Ultrasound

Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation (x-ray). Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels. Ultrasound imaging can be performed using minimal restraint or sedation.

We often use ultrasound to guide a small needle to diseased areas of tissue for biopsy. Abdominal ultrasound imaging is performed to evaluate the:

  • kidneys 
  • liver 
  • gallbladder 
  • pancreas 
  • spleen 
  • blood vessels of the abdomen

Ultrasound is used to help diagnose a variety of conditions, such as:

  • abdominal pain 
  • pancreatitis 
  • enlarged abdominal organ 
  • stones in the kidney or bladder 
  • portosystemic shunts 
  • needle biopsies in which needles are used to extract a sample of cells from organs for laboratory testing.

Fluoroscopy

Fluoroscopy is a continuous series of very low dose x-ray images that let veterinarians see images of the inside of the body in motion. For example, fluoroscopy of the chest allows us to watch the heart beat and the lungs expand. Fluoroscopy is used to diagnose diseases that involve motion, such as collapse of the trachea during breathing, or disorders of swallowing.

Fluoroscopy is used to diagnose problems such as

  • swallowing disorders such as strictures
  • collapsing trachea
  • motility problems of the stomach and intestines
  • flow of blood through abnormal vessels