There are many different tools that veterinarians use to help diagnose and treat your pet. Radiology includes radiographs (x-rays), ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and other modalities. Each of these is different, and each has its benefits and limits.
Projection Radiographs (Traditional X-rays):
An x-ray is a single two dimensional image that is produced by x-ray radiation. The x-ray machine sends radiation through the patient, and whatever is not blocked or absorbed is passed on and projected onto an x-ray film. Today, most veterinary practices use a digital system which produces excellent images and fast results.
Radiographs are good for evaluating bones and other dense structures. We most commonly use them to view limbs and joints. Radiographs allow for identification of bony fractures, trauma or degenerative changes (arthritis). However, radiographs are not good at evaluating soft tissue structures such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Radiographs are also useful for evaluating the chest and abdomen. Sometimes, due to the complexity of the heart and abdominal organs, we also need to consider further tests, such as an echocardiogram or abdominal ultrasound.