Can an X Ray show if a cat has already been spayed?

If a cat has already been spayed at an early age, thereby not showing a scar from surgery, can having an x-ray done show that the reproductive organs have been removed?

  • Vetinfo

    By: Erika Raines El Segundo, CA

    Replied on 04/19/2011

    An x-ray is a diagnostic tool that works best for looking at mineral structures such as bones. It does not do a good job of showing soft tissues with much detail. Because of this, it is very difficult to distinguish different organs on an x-ray, especially ones as small as a non-pregnant cat uterus would be. An x-ray may show if stainless steel suture was used in the classic spay areas, but this would not be proof that such an operation occurred. Ultrasound, a diagnostic tool better suited for organ examination, is not even precise enough to always tell whether or not a cat has been spayed. If she has not, there is a decent chance that an ovary may be found, but if no ovary is found it is not necessarily proof that she was spayed. Generally even in cats that were spayed at a few weeks of age in a humane society, some form of scar is left. If no scar is found you can either have an operation performed to prove that no reproductive organs are present, or hope for the best and wait for kittens or the lack of them as proof. -Erika, DVM

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