Friday, 31 March 2017

All About ... X-Rays

X-rays or Radiographs are generally used to provide pictures of bone.  They are invaluable for identifying fractures, changes in bone density, arthritis, the state of bone growth and any other bone associated conditions.  However, they will not identify any changes to muscles, tendons, cartilage, joint capsules or other soft tissues.

X-rays are dependent on the density of objects in their path so specialist dyes can be used to show other problems such as ruptured spinal cord discs or problems with the spinal canal.  The dye works by outlining the structures which then make it relatively easy to establish the cause of a problem.  

The rays are directed from the apparatus onto a sensitised plate which is positioned on the far side of the area being examined.  These rays are blocked to a varying degree by bone or other tissues based on their density.  The contrast between these densities shows as a line on the pictures.   A bone fracture would also show clearly due to this variation.

Portable machines, like the one used for Basil's tooth, mean digital x-rays can be taken nearly anywhere and the high resolution images can be seen instantly on a laptop. 

X-rays are relatively cheap (compared to many other diagnostic techniques) and so vets rely on them as a first step in lameness diagnosis as well as other conditions. 

The vet will look out for chips, fractures, bone spurs, roughening (blurring) of the edges of the bone, dark spots and any differences to what is considered 'normal'.

 Top is a healthy navicular bone, bottom picture is not.

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Until next time!

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