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CT (computed tomography) is essentially three dimensional x-ray. It has revolutionised the way in which both human and veterinary medicine is able to assess certain patients. CT and MRI work in very different ways and therefore each has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example CT can provide excellent detail in bone, creating almost perfect 3D reconstructions of joints, whilst MRI is not a great tool for examination of bones. However, CT does not provide very good detail within the brain or spinal cord tissue, whilst MRI is able to show subtle changes due to inflammation or tumours.
The CT scanner at Bath Veterinary Referrals has allowed us to significantly change and improve how we approach certain cases. This scanner is a "16-slice" scanner allowing us to obtain very detailed pictures for a very short scan time. This means that we can achieve excellent detail in moving organs such as lungs. In fact, once you have seen the detail that we can achieve with CT it is very hard to go back to using x-rays, particularly for lungs and nasal chambers.
CT has many uses, including some of the following common investigations:
·Any respiratory disease e.g. chronic coughing, difficulty breathing
·Orthopoedic diseases including elbow dysplasia and spinal fractures
·Soft tissue surgery planning to assess how deeply a tumour invades into the surrounding tissues
·Large dogs with any abdominal disease (CT has been shown to be more accurate than ultrasound to assess abdominal disease in dogs over 25 kg)
·Trauma cases such as road traffic accidents
CT scans require a general anaesthetic or heavy sedation and there will be situations in which it is therefore inappropriate to offer this as the first port of call. This will be discussed individually for all cases that we see. However, CT scans are very quick, meaning that animals may only be asleep for very brief periods, often even shorter than required for x-rays.