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Imaging for Pets: Is Radiography or Ultrasound Better?

Radiographs and ultrasounds are the best ways a veterinarian can confirm their diagnosis. It helps them find out what is wrong with your pet. It also helps develop a course of treatment as soon as possible, ensuring your pet can get back to its life.

Sometimes, your veterinarian may prefer one over another, making you think that one is better than the other. However, that may not be the case. Here are some facts about these diagnostic imaging tools.


What Is a Radiography?

Radiography is the imaging of body structures, or parts of the body, using X-rays or electromagnetic radiation. It highlights objects stuck within. It uses the same concept as the human X-ray. However, it is smaller and fits the size of cats, dogs, and other pets.


What Is an Ultrasound?

As the name suggests, it is a device that uses sound waves to develop images of its internal systems. These waves bounce back and forth, creating echoes. The machine converts these echoes into electrical impulses, which show the internal organ structure. 



Both diagnostic devices do not cause the pet any pain. Most pets are comfortable during the procedure. However, it is okay to sedate the pet to reduce stress and anxiety. It also helps the pet sit still during the process, which gives the veterinarian a clear diagnostic image.



The X-ray uses electromagnetic radiation, while the ultrasound uses sound waves. The differences occur because each determines different health factors. They also assess a variety of systems and structures.


Health Issues

Ultrasound assesses soft tissue issues. It will check the heart, gastrointestinal system, and nervous system. However, it doesn’t work well in revealing chest or respiratory problems because the air in the lungs blocks sound waves. The X-ray will assess issues with the bone structure. It will also show if there are any objects in your body. It will also diagnose congestive heart failure and lung abnormalities. 


Sometimes, You Need Both

You may need both diagnostic imaging devices to reveal where the problem lies. For example, your veterinarian may notice your pet has an enlarged spleen while checking for a foreign object. They will recommend that your pet gets an ultrasound. It will help get a better look at the spleen since it has soft tissue.



There is no way to determine that Radiography is better than an ultrasound. Both devices serve different diagnostic purposes that are useful in veterinary medicine. Before the doctor recommends that your pet needs one or the other, they will consider its behavior, symptoms, and health.

They provide faster viewing of internal body organs that are invisible to the eye. They are also less stressful and invasive. With technology, the images are clear, and the veterinarian can share them via email to consult with another veterinarian. They can also send them or print out a copy for you. Hence, none is better than the other. They serve different purposes and meet different needs.

For more information on Radiographs and ultrasound, visit El Paso Animal Emergency at our El Paso, Texas office. Call (915) 545-1148 to schedule an appointment today.

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