Cat X-Ray Methods Examined

When it comes to diagnosing a specific illness, injury or condition involving your cat, X-rays are some of the most common and effective tools used by medical professionals. X-rays are often helpful in confirming a cat fracture, tumor, internal bleeding, obstruction or dental problem. Here is a summary of the different X-ray methods used by cat vets, and details on what to expect if your pet requires this potentially life-saving procedure.

X-Ray Methods

There are numerous X-ray methods that can be utilized to obtain a radiographic image of your cat. Depending on the condition and the location of the affected area, a veterinarian may request X-rays of such commonly examined regions as the chest, teeth or abdomen.

Chest X-Ray

A chest X-ray, or thoracic radiograph, is frequently used to explore respiratory problems involving the lungs, including:

  • Asthma, Bronchitis or Feline Lower Airway Disease
  • Viral or Bacterial Infections (Pneumonia, Feline Calicivirus, Feline Leukemia Virus)
  • Tumors
  • Disease

Chest radiographs can also help identify broken ribs, or heart diseases like Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Restrictive Cardiomyopathy and Dilative Cardiomyopathy.

Dental X-Ray

One of the most common cat tests, dental X-rays, are used to diagnose conditions related to the teeth, gums and other parts of the feline oral cavity. Dental radiographs can help diagnose problems like tooth resorption, periodontal disease, cavities and oral masses.

Abdominal X-Ray

Abdominal radiographs are used to examine problems related to the organs and tissues contained in the feline abdominal region, particularly the kidneys, bladder and reproductive parts. Some of common conditions detected by abdominal X-rays include bladder and kidney stones, urethral obstructions and feline miscarriages.

What Does an X-Ray Involve?

X-rays are common and simple procedures that involve the projection of electromagnetic radiation from special equipment onto a specified area. In order to produce the most accurate, clear image possible, it's important for a cat to be motionless throughout the procedure. In some cases, this requires pets to be restrained by special equipment or an animal medical professional.

Depending on the temperament of the cat and the location or reason for the X-ray, general anesthesia may necessary for an animal to remain still. Some states require cats and other animals to be sedated during X-rays. This is meant to reduce the need for physical restraint and the amount of radiation exposure received by animal care professionals.

Another important step in the X-ray process is to measure the part of the cat that is the focus of the radiograph. This will help the technician set the right exposure time for the equipment. Cats usually only need to undergo brief exposure to electromagnetic radiation in order for the technician to obtain a series of images. Once the procedure is complete, a cat is given time to recover from any anesthesia before being returned to its owner. The radiographic images are then evaluated by a veterinarian. The results can be a key part of helping determine or confirm a diagnosis.

For some owners, the thought of their cat undergoing radiographic imaging can seem somewhat strange. However, X-rays are one of the best tools for identifying illness, injury or trauma among cats. Understanding the different X-ray methods may help cat owners feel more comfortable with this relatively safe and widespread procedure.