X-rays in pets (also called radiographs) are performed much the same way they are in humans. This diagnostic test can be very helpful in looking at certain parts of the body. In order to see something on x-ray however, two different densities of tissue must be touching. In other words, the bone in a leg surrounded by muscle shows up very nicely. In contrast, a soft tissue mass inside of a soft tissue organ will not show up.
At Arizona Veterinary Oncology, the most common radiographs that we perform are of the lungs which allows us to look for spread of the cancer. To see metastasis (spread) within the lungs on an x-ray, the mass must be at least 7 to 9 mm large. More often than not, your pet can be awake for this procedure. We always recommend three views of the thorax (chest) (left side lateral, right side lateral and ventral-dorsal (pet lying on its back)).
The next most common place we radiograph are the long bones. Tumors that invade into bones show up very well on x-rays. Again, your pet can usually be awake for this procedure but sometimes the positioning may be uncomfortable, and sedation or anesthesia may be more appropriate.
At Arizona Veterinary Oncology, our X-ray system is completely digital. This allows us to share the X-rays with your veterinarian quickly via email as well as our radiologist for final interpretation. Most veterinary practices in America have the ability to perform radiographs today and your primary veterinarian maybe able to do these tests as well. If your veterinarian has performed X-rays recently, please be sure to have those sent to us or go by and pick up a CD containing the images and bring it with you to your appointment.