To continue our monthly theme educating you all on the various diagnostic tests that we use, today we thought we would talk about Radiography!

We use radiographs or X-rays very regularly to gain more insight into what is going on in our little patient’s bodies. This form of diagnostic imaging allows us to assess the bones as well as look at the internal organs. What we can see will vary based on the type of animal and the positioning of the radiographs, as well as the disease process going. Radiographs are particularly useful for assessing bone structure, and to look for any broken bones or dislocations. We can often tell a bone is broken just with our physical examination, but a radiograph allows us to assess the break, how severely the bone is broken, where the break is, are there any other cracks or fissures in the bone – all of which will guide us in what treatment options will be available for the patient. Some broken bones can have a cast placed to help them heal, others require surgical pinning.

BBEVS - Avian and Exotic Blood Tests

Here are some radiographs of a young guinea pig who broke her right hind leg. You can see the broken tibia in the photo on the left. A splint and bandage was applied and the radiograph on the right was to check if it was adequately holding the fracture in alignment – you can see it is doing a fantastic job of holding the bone pieces together to allow them to heal.

We also can assess the bone quality with radiographs. Some diseases of the bones can be seen radiographically, such as osteodystrophy in guinea pigs or metabolic bone disease in birds and reptiles.
BBEVS Avian and Exotic Radiograph - Guinea Pig with osteodystrophy

Radiographs allow us to assess the bones of our patients. Here you can see a guinea pig with osteodystrophy vs a normal guinea pig patient.

Even though radiographs are very good at looking at bones, they are also very useful for assessing the internal organs, as well as assess for foreign body ingestion – some foreign bodies will even show up on a radiograph
(look at the images below).
BBEVS Avian and Exotic Radiograph - Bird

This radiograph is of a bird who has swallowed some metal pieces – you can see them in her caudal gut. You can also see the microchip that has been implanted in her pectoral muscles.

BBEVS Avian and Exotic Animals Radiography - Bearded Dragon

This is a radiograph of a bearded dragon that has eaten something she shouldn’t have!

The way we take radiographs will vary from species to species. Often to get the best images we need to anaesthetise our patients so that we can position them correctly. When we take radiographs of birds we need to stretch their wings away from the body – something that isn’t easily achievable without significant stress to the patient unless they are anaesthetised! In some circumstances we can do radiographs conscious or just use sedation, but it will vary from case the case. The veterinarian will discuss with you what will be the best option for your pet at the time of the procedure.

BBEVS Bird and Exotic Animal Radiographs - Cockatiel

This is a radiograph of a cockatiel – can you spot what is abnormal? HINT – look at the right leg

For more information about our avian and exotic radiograph services, just get in touch with our team through our Contact page. 
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