Radiograph or X-ray use in Dogs

Do infections show on X-ray

Question: Dr. Richards,

Would infections appear on an X-ray? I can't imagine it doing so.

Tony A.

Answer: Tony-

Some infections show up really well on X-rays if they are severe and can sometimes be detected early in the infectious process or show up when contrast dyes are used. I don't know that I can write a complete list, but these are some of the ones that are visible:

osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) discospondylitis (infection of spinal discs and the ends of the vertebrae) pyometra (uterine infection) -- when the uterus is enlarged by accumulation of pus pyelonephritis (kidney infection) -- dyes can help show this periodontal infections peritonitis -- can't be absolutely determined to be the cause of fluid accumulation by X-rays but they are helpful infections of the abdominal lymph nodes sometimes show up on X-rays pneumonia chronic bronchitis gas forming infections in muscles some abscesses systemic fungal infections

There are probably others but these are the ones that I can think of off-hand. There are lots of times when X-rays aren't useful in finding infections but they are a good tool for finding them sometimes.

Mike Richards, DVM 12/14/2001

Last edited 08/30/02


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...