CT scans for dogs and cats are a common way of diagnosing various issues and ailments, and we’re very proud to provide this service in-house from our Bridlington small animal hospital. But the thought of your cherished best friend disappearing into that big machine can be distressing for some owners. It’s actually painless for your pet, who will be heavily sedated or have a general anaesthetic ahead of the scan, and is incredibly beneficial for getting to the root of an undiagnosed issue. So we thought we’d demystify the whole process and tell you what CT scans are all about.

What is a CT scan?

CT stands for computed tomography, which means x-ray generated images obtained in 360° while the patient moves through time. Using computer algorithms, a 3D image is produced which can be manipulated and reconstructed to enable vets to diagnose a disease or condition. The CT scanner is very noisy, and patients must remain still during the entire scan, which is why they are sedated or anaesthetised.

What is a CT scan used for?

CT has many, many uses in practice but is mainly used for looking deep inside non visualisable regions, such as the brain, spinal cord, lungs and other organs.

These are typical situations in which a CT scan may be recommended:

  • Lameness investigations:
    • Elbows, shoulders, carpi, tarsi, angular limb deformities
  • Nasal investigations (sinusitis, tumours, rhinitis)
  • Middle ear disease
  • Urinary work ups for incontinence
  • Spinal disease such as a suspected slipped disc
  • Brain diseases
  • Suspected cancers

What is “contrast”?

Contrast is a substance which is given into the veins and taken up into the blood vessels to make a particular organ or tissue show up more clearly in the scan. It is essential to performing most but not all CT scans. 

We can then use this to identify very specific structures and distinguish between different forms of diseases. Animals MUST have their kidney values checked via a blood test before this is given.

How do I request a CT scan?

If you’re already registered with Aldgate Vets, your vet will talk to you about this process.

We can perform CT scans on behalf of other practices. If you’re a vet and would like to request a CT scan, please fill in and submit the form at the bottom of our main CT scanner service page.

What to expect when your pet has a CT scan

Your pet will usually have to avoid food from the night before the scan, though your vet will tell you about this. As we’ve already said, your pet will need to be sedated or anaesthetised.

We monitor your pet’s vital signs throughout the scanning process, which will usually take about 30 minutes, depending on the number of scans required.  Bear in mind there will also be preparation time beforehand and recovery time afterwards.

When will we get the results of a CT scan?

As our CT scanner is within our Bridlington practice, the results are instant and are immediately sent to be analysed by teleradiology specialists, which can take between one and four days, depending on the urgency of the case. With their support and advice, our aim is to provide an accurate diagnosis of the condition and a recommended course of treatment as quickly as possible.

Out-patient CT scans can be arranged and reports sent directly to your own vets if you are not registered with Aldgate Vets.

How much does a CT scan cost?

Prices start at £1,200 and range up to £2,000 depending on the extent and number of CT scans needed.

CT scan of penny the spaniel's broken humerus
Penny the paniel looking sad

Penny’s story

Penny is an absolutely delightful springer spaniel who suffered a fractured elbow which our visiting orthopaedic surgeon Patrick described as “quite possibly the most complex fracture a dog can sustain”. An X-ray showed the elbow at the bottom of her humerus bone was in lots of pieces and, based on the severity of the fracture, we carried out a CT scan (above) on both her elbows. The report showed the full extent of the fracture but also a possible fissure in her right elbow which meant there would be a chance it could fracture in the future.

With the highly detailed images to help him, Patrick carried out surgery on her left elbow, doing an amazing job as there were so many fragments we were close to making the decision to amputate. However, he was able to plate and screw everything together. Penny has now made a wonderful recovery and is every bit as mad as a healthy springer should be! This was certainly made possible by the insight provided by the CT scan – and Patrick’s skilled hands.

Find out more

If you’d like to know more about CT scanning, ask our team at your next appointment or contact us.

Published On: June 21st, 2023 / Categories: Latest News /

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