In today’s veterinary blog, Dr. Andrew Gendler, veterinary radiologist, explains why it may be necessary to sedate your pet to complete a radiographic study (x-rays).
When your pet is suffering from a cough, an unusual breathing pattern, weakness, vomiting, or lameness/limp, radiographs (x-rays) play a crucial role in obtaining the diagnosis. The successful acquisition of diagnostic high-quality radiographs requires that the patient remains still for a short amount of time and often hold a posture or specific position to isolate a particular body part.
More importantly, sedation with injectable medications during imaging studies improves patient comfort and reduces anxiety. When pets are not compliant because of the unfamiliar surroundings, foreign smells, being briefly separated from their people, and being handled by strangers, mild sedation can alleviate these issues and enable WestVet staff to thoroughly complete the x-ray imaging study.
In addition to anxiety and unease, patients may be experiencing pain. An accurate diagnosis of a skeletal injury, such as fractures or joint dislocation, involves specific positioning of the body and limb. This may require sedation and injectable pain medication (like opioids). Some injuries are so severe that general anesthesia may be required. Your pet’s comfort is a top priority during their time and treatment at WestVet.
Radiographs are produced using ionizing radiation. This presents an occupational hazard to the veterinary support staff who position the patient. Sedation allows us to better position our patients and keep them still during the radiographic imaging while also allowing our staff to avoid the primary x-ray beam and limit radiation exposure.
Finally, high quality, diagnostic radiographs require very specific positioning of the patient and the primary x-ray beam. Sedation and anesthesia allow our staff to obtain the best quality radiographs possible, increasing the likelihood of a correct clinical diagnosis for your pet/our patient. Radiographs of patients who are not compliant, will not hold still, or are very upset, often are blurry, exclude the area of interest, or are poorly positioned and difficult to interpret because of superimposed extraneous anatomy. Poor quality radiographs may delay the accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, subject the support staff to additional and often unnecessary radiation exposure, and are a poor use of financial resources.
The specific sedation or anesthesia protocol used for your pet will vary depending on their age, clinical condition, and doctor overseeing the case. Your family veterinarian can discuss the specific details of your pet’s sedation plan and address any concerns.
The staff at WestVet take pride in treating all of our patients as if they are their own. If you have any questions regarding radiography services at WestVet, you may contact us at 208.375.1600.