Are you interested in taking care of animals and learning about new technology? As a vet tech, you get to use the latest in diagnostic imaging technology. Also, working as a vet tech is challenging and rewarding, especially when you help an animal regain their health. Although the work is demanding, it’s an excellent learning experience.
What is Vet Tech Diagnostic Imaging?
Diagnostic imaging is a specialty of veterinary medicine that uses advanced technology including the CT scan, ultrasound and X-Ray.
CT Scan – is a diagnostic imaging technique used to detect bone and joint problems, like fractures and tumors. CT scans are painless to humans and animals.
Ultrasound – is a diagnostic imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to make an image of an animal’s internal structure. It can help diagnose the cause of pain, swelling and infection in an animal’s body. Many of us know ultrasounds as they are used to view the fetus of a pregnant woman.
X-Rays – is the oldest and most frequently used diagnostic imaging technique. Veterinarians use X-rays to help diagnose or monitor treatment of internal conditions of an animal’s body.
Vet techs use diagnostic imaging to diagnose diseases and review treatments. Veterinary imaging utilizes equipment that can handle the imaging needs of:
- Small, domestic pets
- Large animals including horses, cattle, and other farm animals
- Avian animals
- Exotic animals
- Zoo animals
Advances in the medical field have allowed the technology used for human patients to be made available to veterinarians in diagnosing sick or injured animals. The vet tech is the point person that operates the diagnostic imaging equipment in the veterinary office.
Why is Diagnostic Imaging Used on Animals?
One of the main reasons diagnostic imaging is used on animals is that it causes less discomfort to animals than some other diagnosis methods. Diagnostic imaging was initially developed for human use. However, veterinarians use imaging methods on animal patients because it is non-invasive and a lot more economical than many other diagnostic procedures.
Although X-Rays may not give enough information to determine the cause of a pet’s symptoms, they can help the veterinarian decide what other diagnostics are necessary. X-rays are an excellent method of detecting foreign objects or viewing images of bones. X-rays can also detect deformities in the body, tumors, fractures, and injuries.
It may be difficult for a veterinary technician to examine internal organs like the heart, liver, or kidneys by using imaging alone because X-rays aren’t absorbed into the body’s soft tissue very well. An additional procedure using contrast dye can help get a detailed image. If a picture of an animal’s internal organs is required for a diagnosis, a contrast dye is given orally or intravenously. Once the dye is in the animal’s system, a series of images is taken to determine if there are any abnormalities.
The X-ray machine must be positioned in close proximity to the area of the animal’s body needing imaging. Although there’s a risk of damage to the body’s cells from exposure to radiation, the actual exposure is a fraction of a second or less. To decrease the risk of exposure to radiation, shields made of lead are used to protect the areas of the body that aren’t being examined.
What are the Benefits of Learning Diagnostic Imaging?
Diagnostic imaging has been beneficial in the field of veterinary medicine. By using imaging techniques, veterinarians are able to diagnose illnesses, injuries, and potentially severe conditions in the earliest stages. The technology is beneficial for patients that are asymptomatic. Since imaging is so accurate, veterinarians are able to achieve more positive results for their patients. Here are some of the benefits of diagnostic imaging:
Benefit #1: Painless Procedures
As a vet tech, you will ensure that an animal is as comfortable as possible during diagnostic imaging. Ultrasounds are painless and diagnostic imaging doesn’t cause any additional stress to the patient. Also, the veterinary technician is able to see any abnormalities without the need of surgery. After viewing the results, a veterinarian can determine the best course of treatment.
Benefit #2: Early Diagnosis
With a medical imaging procedure, a veterinarian is able to detect any abnormalities in an animal’s body before it becomes a serious condition. When the veterinarian has an accurate image of what’s happening inside the animal’s body, it’s easier to determine the best treatment plan.
Equipment Used in Vet Tech Diagnostic Imaging
The two systems that are used in veterinary diagnostic imaging include computed radiography (CR) and digital radiography (DR).
Computed Radiography uses cassettes that contain imaging plates instead of film. The cassette is inserted into a computerized reader, and the image displays on a computer screen.
Digital Radiography differs from the computerized type of diagnostic imaging because the sensors are precisely inserted into the X-Ray machine table. When a veterinary technician takes an image, it’s projected directly onto a screen.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of diagnostic imaging technique. When choosing imaging equipment for a veterinary practice, it’s important to research which of the systems will best suit the needs of your hospital or clinic. It’s essential to weigh the benefits of each of the systems.
Computerized Radiography Systems
A lot of medical professionals consider CR to be a bridge between traditional X-ray procedures and newer digital technology. Computed radiography usually requires fewer changes to be made for veterinary office staff. However, the cassettes used in computerized systems can be damaged if dropped but they aren’t as expensive to replace as a panel for a DR system.
The advantages of a computerized radiography system are a low initial investment. CR is compatible with a lot of different systems. The technology works well for small vet clinics and those with a low volume of patients. The systems are available in multiple sizes, making them practical for small and large animals.
Digital Radiography Systems
DR systems use digital equipment to capture images and transfer them to a computer screen to be viewed. One of the most significant advantages of digital radiography systems is that they can be fixed or mobile. Although these systems are more expensive, they produce high-quality images that many veterinarians feel justifies the cost of the system.
Very large or busy animal hospitals and emergency clinics may prefer DR systems due to their higher volume capabilities. The cost of these systems is initially more expensive than a CR system. However, a DR system offers better imaging capabilities than a computerized system.
People who enter this field love caring for animals and educating owners about caring for their pets. The need for compassionate and highly skilled vet techs is growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for vet techs to grow by 16 percent over the next decade. There is a need for skilled vet techs, and you can graduate in less than a year from a vet tech program. If you are ready to earn and want to learn, becoming a vet tech may be the right career path for you.
Do you need the skills to manage diagnostic imaging equipment? Do you have the qualities needed to become a good vet tech? With an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, you’ll gain the knowledge, qualities and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.