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BasicsofRadiology

byKristinaHansen,RVT

KeyPoints
Propermeasurementandpositioningareimportanttoproducingdiagnosticqualityradiographs.
Safetyshouldbetheprimaryobjectivewhenworkingwithradiation.
Radingradiographsrequirestheabilitytorecognizeandanalyzedifferentradiographicopacities.
Radiographsareextremelyusefulinidentifyingemergencyandgeneralconditionsinveterinarymedicine.However,radio

graphsmaybemisinterpretedifnottakenproperly,sopropermeasurementandpatientpositioningareimportant.Radiation
safetyisalsoaconcernwhentakingradiographs.Veterinarytechnicianswhoareknowledgeableaboutradiologyandcan
takediagnosticqualityradiographsarevaluablemembersofthehealthcareteam.

DiscoveryofXRays
Xrayswerediscoveredbyaccident.InNovember1895,WilhelmConradRntgen,aGermanphysicist,discoveredxrays
whileexperimentingwithaCrookestube,anevacuatedglasstubecontainingtwoelectrodesthroughwhichanelectrical
currentcouldpass(similartoafluorescentlightbulb).1,2 Whenthetubewasshieldedwithheavy,blackcardboard,agreen
fluorescentlightcouldbeseenonascreenafewfeetaway.Rntgenrealizedthatthetubewasradiatingan"invisiblelight"1
throughthecardboard,andthroughfurtherexperiments,hefoundthatthisradiationpassedthroughmostsubstances,
includinghumantissues,andproducedimagesofsolidobjectsonfilm.Rntgennamedthenewtypeofradiation"xrays"
becauseitwasunknowntothescientificworld("X"isusedtodesignateanunknowninmathematics1 )andbecauselightis
consideredtotravelinrays.

RadiationSafety
Safetyshouldbetheprimaryobjectiveduringradiography.Ionizingradiation(e.g.,xrays)ishazardous3 andcancause
cellulardamageifsafetyprecautionsarenotfollowed.Sourcesofionizingradiationintheradiographyroomaretheprimary
beam,scatterradiation,andthexraytubehead.Exposuretoscatterradiationxraysthataredivertedfromthepathofthe
primarybeamthroughinteractionwiththepatientisacommonradiologichazard.Eachveterinaryhospitalshouldestablish
aradiologysafetyprogramtoprotectitstechnicalstaffandpatientsfromscatterradiation.Thissafetyprogramneedstomeet
regulationssetbythestatedepartmentofhealth.
RadiationHazards
Whenradiationcomesincontactwithlivingcells,itcan4,5 :
Passthroughcellswithnoeffect
Producecelldamagethatisrepairable
Producecelldamagethatisirreparable
Killcellswithinthebody
Alllivingcellscanbedamagedbyionizingradiation,butrapidlydividingcellsarethemostsensitive.4,5 Inhumanadults,
tissuesthatarereadilysensitivetoradiationincludethebones,lymphatictissues,dermis,hematopoietic(bloodcellforming)
tissues,andepithelialtissues.35 Theeyeandthyroidarealsosensitive.
Personsunder18yearsofageandpregnantwomenshouldnotbeinvolvedinradiographicprocedures.Youngerindividuals
arestillgrowingandareeasilyaffectedbyradiation.3 Theyshouldonlybeinvolvedwithradiationifitisprescribedbya
medicaldoctor,andtheyshouldnotreceivemorethan0.005sievert(Sv)peryear,whichis10%ofthemaximumpermissible
doseforanadult.3
Pregnantwomenshouldnottakeradiographsbecausethedevelopingfetusissensitivetotheeffectsofionizingradiation.The
degreeofsensitivitydependsonthestageofpregnancyandthedosereceived.Thefetusismostsensitivetoionizingradiation
duringthefirsttrimester.Exposuretoionizingradiationduringthepreimplantationperiod(0to9days)ismostlikelytobelethal
totheembryo.4,5 Duringtheorganogenesisperiod(10daysto6weeks),radiationexposurecancausethefetustosufferfrom
skeletalanddentalmalformationsandoverallgrowthretardation.Theleastsensitivetimeforthefetusisthefetalperiod(6

weekstoterm)4,5 however,growthandmentalretardationcanstilloccurduringthisperiod.Althoughnotrecommended,a
pregnantwomanwhochoosestocontinueworkingaroundradiationshouldwearanadditionaldosimeteratwaistlevel
underneathherleadgowntomonitorthedoseofradiationthefetusmightbereceiving.3
Twotypesofbiologicdamagecanoccurfromradiationsomaticandgenetic.3"5 Somaticdamagedescribesdamagetothe
bodythatismanifestedwithinthelifetimeoftherecipient.3,5 Althoughradiationcanproduceimmediatechangeswithincells,
thebody'sabilitytorepairitselfmaydelaytheappearanceofchangesforalongtimeafterexposure.3 Insomecases,cellular
damagemayneverbevisible.Somaticdamageismoreextensivewhenthebodyisexposedtoasinglemassivedoseof
radiationthanwhensmaller,cumulativelyequivalent,repeateddosesarereceived,3 butitcanresultfromseveralsmaller
dosesadministeredovermanyyears.5 Cancer,cataracts,aplasticanemia,andsterilityareexamplesofsomaticdamage.3
GeneticdamagefromradiationoccursintheformofinjurytotheDNAinthegenesofreproductivecells3"5 andisnot
detectableuntilfuturegenerationsareproduced.3,5 Noamountofradiationisnondamaging.
Evenunderthebestconditions,someexposuretoscatterradiationwilloccur.TheNationalCommitteeonRadiationProtection
andMeasurement(NCRP)hassetthemaximumannualpermissibledoseforoccupationalexposuretoradiationat0.05Sv.3
EveryfacilityinvolvedwithradiationshouldfollowtheNCRPguidelinestohelpprotectstafffrombeingexposedtoexcess
radiation.Somestatesprohibitstaffwhoareoccupationallyexposedtoradiation(e.g.,radiationtherapystaff)fromrestraining
patientsfordiagnosticradiographytherefore,staffnotroutinelyinvolvedwithradiationneedtoassist.3 Itistheresponsibilityof
thepersontakingradiographstolimithisorherexposuretoionizingradiationinordertoavoidexceedingthemaximum
permissibledose.Radiographsshouldnotalwaysbetakenbythesametechnicalpersonnel,especiallyifthefacilitytakes
multiplesetsofradiographsdaily.
SafetyMonitoringDevices
Safetymonitoringdevicesrecordtheamountofradiationreceivedduringradiologicprocedures.Monitoringdevicesmustbe
wornduringeveryprocedurethatinvolvesradiation,andexposeddevicesmustbesenttoafederallyapprovedlaboratoryfor
processing.3 Monitoringdevicesareusuallywornfor1monthbeforetheyaresenttothelaboratory,andreplacementsshould
beissuedimmediatelysothatthereisnotimewhentheradiographystaffarenotmonitored.3 Theamountofradiationeach
devicereceivesisrecordedunderthewearer'ssocialsecuritynumber,allowingacumulativeradiationdosetoberecordedfor
eachperson.Anindividualtotallifetimedosecanthenbecalculated.3,5
Therearefourmaintypesofmonitoringdevices:filmbadges,thermoluminescentdosimeters(TLDs),opticallystimulated
luminescencebadges,andionchambers.3,5
Filmbadgesarethemostcommondevicesusedtomonitorscatterradiation.3,5 Thesebadgesconsistofalightproofplastic
holderthatcontainsafilmsensitivetoradiation.Wrist,clipon,andringbadgesareavailable.Thesebadgescanbewornon
thebelt,hand,orcollar,dependingontheanatomicareaconsideredatmostrisk(e.g.,gonads,hands,thyroid).Radiation
passesthroughtheplasticholderandexposesthefilm.Theprocessinglaboratorythendevelopsthefilmandmeasuresthe
levelofexposure.3,5
TLDscontainlithiumfluorideorcalciumfluoridecrystals,whichstoreenergyproducedbyradiationexposure.These
dosimetersareplacedintosmallcontainersandwornbytechnicalstaff.Whenevaluatedatthelaboratory,thecrystalsundergo
heatprocessingduringwhichlightisemittedfromthecrystalsinanamountproportionaltotheamountofradiationthe
dosimeterhasreceived.TLDshaveadvantagesoverfilmbadgesinthattheycanbewornforalongertimeperiod,are
reusable,andstoreinformationforyears.3,5
OpticallystimulatedluminescencebadgesaremoreadvancedthanfilmbadgesorTLDs.Athinlayerofaluminumoxideis
sandwichedbetweenthreeelementfiltersinatight,lightproofpackage.Thebadgesareanalyzedbyusingalasertostimulate
thealuminumoxidelayer.Thelasercausesilluminationinproportiontotheamountofradiationtheindividualhasreceived.
Thesebadgesareextremelysensitivetoradiation,andeventhelowestdoseofradiationisrecorded.5
Theionchamberisthemostcomplexofthefourmonitoringdevices.5 Thisdevicecomesintheformofapenandcanbeeasily
clippedontoapocket.Thechamberischargedbeforeuse,andwitheachexposuretoradiation,itdischarges.3,5 Attheendof
themonitoringperiod,theamountofiondischargeisread.Theamountofdischargeisproportionaltotheamountofradiation
received.3,5
MinimizingExposure
Threewaystominimizeexposuretoradiationarecommonlyusedwearingleadshields,increasingdistance,andreducing
exposuretime5 butthebestwaytominimizeexposureistoavoidretakeswhenpossible.
LeadShields

Leadshieldsarerequiredforallstaffmembersinvolvedinradiographicprocedures.Leadgowns,thyroidshields,andgloves
areavailable,asisleadedglasseyewear.Leadshieldsthatarewornduringradiographyshouldcontainalayerofleadat
least0.5mmthick.3"5Leadshieldsareexpensiveandshouldbehandledwithcare.Gownsshouldbelaidflatordrapedover
aspecialverticalrackwithoutanyfoldsorwrinklestopreventcracksinthelead.5 Glovescanbestoredonaspecialvertical
rack,ormetalsoupcanswithbothendscutoutcanbeplacedinsidetheglovestopreventcracksandprovideaircirculationto
theliner,reducingthemoisturebuildupthatcanaccumulateinleadgloveswhennotinuse.3,5
Glovesandgownsshouldbemanuallycheckedforcracksorholesfrequently.Glovesshouldalsoberadiographedevery6
monthsgowns,every12months.4,5 Acommontechniqueusedforradiographingleadshieldsis80kVpand5mAs.4,5 This
techniquecanbeadjustedasneededtoobtainproperdensityonthefilm.Theradiographoftheprotectiveapparelshould
remainclearafterprocessing.Cracksintheleadwillappearasincreasesindensityorblacknessontheradiograph.3
Distance
Accordingtothelawsofphysics,theintensityofxrayradiationdecreasesasthedistancefromthesourceincreasesfor
example,ifthedistancefromthesourceisdoubled,theintensityisreducedtoonefourthitsoriginalstrength.3,5 (Thisisknown
astheinversesquarelaw.)Intheradiographyroom,thismeansthatstaffexposuretoxraysmaybedecreasedbysimply
standingfartherawayfromtheprimarybeam.Adistanceofatleast6feetisconsideredtobesafefromscatterradiation.Any
personnelwhoremainintheradiologyroomtorestrainthepatientshouldalwaysleanbackandlookawayfromthebeamto
protecttheireyesduringexposure.Glovesshouldalwaysbewornproperly,notsimplydrapedoverthehand,becausescatter
radiationcancomefromanydirection,includingunderthetabletop.4,5
Time
Reducingthetimeoffilmexposureisanotherfactorinreducingradiationexposuretostaffandpatients.Exposuretimecanbe
reducedbyusingthefastestfilmscreencombinationsavailable.4,5 Reducingthenumberofretakesandcollimatingdownto
theareaofinterestwillalsohelpreducestaffexposuretoradiation.

Technique
Atechniquechartisavaluableresourceforthetechnicalstafftakingradiographs.Byprovidingaconsistentmethodof
choosingtheproperexposuretocreateadiagnosticradio
graph,acharthelpsreducetheneedforretakes,therebyreducing
exposuretoboththeradiographerandthepatient.2,6,7 Eachxraymachineshouldhaveitsowntechniquechartbecauseall
machinemodelsaredifferent.2,6 Atechniquethatworksforonemachinemaynotbethebesttechniqueforanothermachine
evenwhenthesettingandanatomicareabeingradiographedarethesame.
Developingatechniquechartrequiresradiographingan"average"patient.Theidealsubjectisa40lb(18kg)dogthatis
neitherunderweightnoroverweight.Thedogshouldbeanesthetizedsothattheprocessrunssmoothly.Severalfactors
influencethedevelopmentofthetechniquechart:screenspeed,screenage,filmspeed,sourceimagedistance,amountof
beamfiltration,temperatureandtimeoffilmprocessing,andtypeofgrid.6 Oncethechartisdeveloped,thecorrecttechnique
setting(kVpandmAs)foruseinindividualpatientsischosenbasedontissuethicknessandanatomicareaofinterest.

Positioning
Properpatientpositioningisimportantbecauseradio
graphsofinaccuratelypositionedpatientscanbemisinterpreted.The
AmericanCommitteeofVeterinaryRadiologistsandAnatomistshasstandardizedthetermsandabbreviationsusedin
referencetopositioning.2,8,9 Thesetermsdefinethepositionanddirectionoftheprimarybeam.Inatwoletterabbreviation,
thefirstletterdesignateswherethebeamentersandtheseconddesignateswherethebeamexits.2,8,9 Forexample,the
abbreviationDV(dorsoventral)indicatesthattheprimarybeamentersthroughthedorsalsideoftheanimalandexitsthrough
theventralside.Thetermsleft(L)andright(R)refertothesideoftheanimalfacingthetabletherefore,thedesignation"R
lateralabdomen"indicatesthattheprimarybeamentersthroughtheleftsideoftheab
domenandexitsthroughtherightsideof
theabdomen.

Interpretation
Readingradiographsisbasedonrecognitionandanalysisofstructureswithdifferentrelativeradiographicopacities.10 Each
radiographshouldbeinterpretedbyaveterinarian,andawrittenreportoftheinterpretationshouldbere
cordedaspartofthe
patient'smedicalrecord.Itisrecommendedthataradiologistalsoreadradiographs,ifin
di
cated,toprovideanexpert's
interpretation.Radiologistscanalsosuggestadditionalimagingthatcouldhelpinthediagnosisandtreatmentofapatient.
Radiographicopacitydescribestheabilityofxraystopenetratetissueandothersubstances.Substancesthatallowfewerx
raystopassthroughappearwhiteronradio
graphicfilmthosethatallowmorexraystopassthroughappeardarker.
Radiographicopacityrunsthespectrumfromradiopaque(white)toradiolucent(black).10 Thedifferenceintheradiographic

opacityofdifferentsubstancesandstructuresinthebodymakestheirdifferentiationpossible.Themostcommonsubstances
foundinthebodygas,fat,softtissue(water/muscle),bone,andmetalhavedistinctlyrecognizableradiographic
opacities.4,10,11
Gasisthemostradiolucentsubstanceinthebody4,10 andcaneasilyberecognizedasthedarkestareasonradio
graphs.
Becausegasisveryradiolucent,itprovidesgoodcontrasttovisualizethemoreradiopaquestructuresororganswithinthe
body.10 Forexample,softtissuesinthechest(e.g.,heart,aorta)areeasilyvisualizedbecausecontrastisprovidedbytheair
filledalveoliandairwaysofthelungs.10 Someradio
graphicproceduresintroduceairintostructuresororgans(e.g.,urinary
bladder)toenhanceradio
graphiccontrasttohelpbettervisualizethosestructures.
Fatismoreradiolucent(appearsdarker)thanboneandsofttissuebutmoreradiopaque(appearslighter)thangas.Fat
providesgoodradiographiccontrasttodifferentiateandvisualizetheedgesofmanyorgansandstructures.10 Forexample,the
omentumbetweenthestomachandthespleenallowsdifferentiationofthegastricwallfromthespleen.Ifayoungor
emaciatedanimalisbeingradiographed,thelackoffatcanpreventthevisualizationofmanyor
gansandstructures.
Waterandmuscleappearasshadesofgrayonradiographs.Thisspectrumofradiopacitiesisconsiderednormalforsoft
tissue.Softtissuesseenonradiographscanbeeithersolidorfluidfilledorgansormuscle(e.g.,heart,liver,spleen,kidneys,
urinarybladder).Variationsinvolume,thickness,anddegreeofsofttissuecompositioncreatevariationsinopacitythathelp
identifydifferentorgans.10
Bone,whichisprimarilycomposedofcalciumandphosphorus,absorbsmorexraysthanmuscleandappearswhiter(more
radiopaque)onafinishedradiograph.4,10 Somevariationinradiographicopacitywithinandbetweenbonesisnormal
becauseofdifferencesincomposition(e.g.,theratioofcompactbonetospongyboneandofthecortextothemedullarycanal).
Whenboneisradiographed,itisassessedasmoreorlessradiopaquethannormal.10 Whenthepatientisnotbeing
radiographedforbonepathology,theclarityandradiopacityofboneontheradiographaretwogoodindicatorsoftheoverall
qualityoftheradio
graphictechnique.Clear,whitebonesusuallymeanthattheorgansareasdifferentiatedaspossible.
Metalappearsthewhitest(mostradiopaque)onafinishedradiographbecauseitabsorbsmostxrays.10,11 Metalmaybeseen
onradiographsiftheanimalhasswallowedametalobject(e.g.,fishinghook,coin,sewingneedle,key)orhassustaineda
gunshotwoundwitharetainedbullet.Metalobjectsshouldberelativelyeasytoidentifyonradio
graphsbecausetheywillbe
themostradiopaque,buttheirpositionmaybeconfirmedwithsurgeryorendoscopyiftheywarrantremoval.
Becauseradiographsaretwodimensional,aminimumoftwodiagnosticradiographsshouldbetakenatrightanglestoone
another.Usingdifferentangleswillhelptheinterpretingveterinarian"see"thestructuresinthreedimensions.Mistakesare
oftenmadewhentheveterinariantriestosavetheclientmoneybybasingadiagnosisononlyoneview.

ThoracicRadiographs
StandardprojectionsforthoracicradiographsarerightandleftlateralandDVorVD.Itissuggestedthateithertherightorleft
lateralviewbeusedconsistentlyoneverypatientsothatallstaffmembersbecomefamiliarwiththeprojectionsintermsof
radiographicinterpretation.Whentakingrightandleftlateralchestradiographs,thepatientisplacedinlateralrecumbency
withthefrontlimbspulledforwardtoavoidsuperimposingthetricepsmuscleonthecranialpartofthelung.8,12Thehindlimbs
shouldbepulledforwardtomaintainpropersymmetryofthethorax.12 Thecraniallandmarkforcollimatingtheradiographfield
isthemanubrium,andthecaudallandmarkisthefirstlumbarvertebra.8,12 WhentakingaVDchestradiograph,thepatientis
placedonitsbackwithitsfrontlimbsextendedcrani
ally.8,12 Thelandmarksarethesameasthoseforlateralprojections,but
theradiographerneedstomakesurethatthesternumissuperimposedoralignedoverthespine.8,12 PositioningforDVchest
radiographsisthesameasforVDradiographsexceptthatthepatientisonitsstomach.
Lungs
Thelungs,whicharelocatedinsidetheribcage,arethelargestorgansinthethorax.Dogsandcatshavesixlunglobes,fourin
therightlungandtwointheleftlung.Thecranialaspectofeachlungiscalledtheapexthecaudalaspectofeachlung
adjacenttothediaphragmiscalledthebase.13 Thebordersofthelungsarereferredtoascranial,dorsal,caudal,and
ventral.13
Whenfocusingonthelungs,theviewsrecommendedarerightand/orleftlateralandDVorVD.Lungradiographsshouldbe
takenatpeak(full)inspiration.Thepatient'sbreathingshouldbewatchedcloselybeforetakingtheradio
graphtoensurethat
12
exposuretakesplaceduringinspiration. VDprojectionsproducebetterimagesofthelungsbecausetheyallowthepatientto
bepositionedsymmetricallyandenablebetterinspiratoryeffort.8,12,13VDimagesalsoallowbettervisualizationofthe
accessorylunglobesandcaudalmediastinum.12 Bothrightandleftviewsarerecommendedwhenlookingforlungdiseases
(e.g.,pneumonia,metastatictumors).13
Heart

Indogs,thecardiacsilhouettecanvaryinsizeandshapedependingonthesizeofthepatient'sthorax(e.g.,deepandnarrow,
shallowandwide).Theshapeofthedog'sheartisgenerallyoval,butitappearsmoreverticalandnarrowonlateralviewsand
moreroundedandsmalleronDVviews.Theheartisnormallybetween2.5to3.5intercostalspacesinwidth(dependingon
thebreedofdog)onlateralviewsandtwothirdsthewidthofthechestcavityonDVviews.14 Incats,thecardiacsilhouetteis
moreslenderindiameterandhasamorepointedapex,butitisstillgenerallyoval.Anormalfelineheartisabouttwo
intercostalspacesinwidthandoccupiesabout70%ofthedistancefromthesternumtothethoracicspine.14 Younganimals
appeartohavelargerheartsthanmatureanimals.
Whenfocusingontheheart,arightlateralviewshouldbetakenalongwithaDVorVDprojection.Rightlateralisthe
recommendedlateralviewbecauseanormalhearthasamoreconsistentpositiononthisprojection.14 ThechoiceofVDorDV
viewdependsondoctorpreference.ADVviewseemstobepreferredbecauseitprovidesgreaterconsistencyoftheheart's
position(closertothesternum)andmakesthehearteasiertovisualizeandassess.14 ThepositionofthepatientforDV
radiographsisalsolesscompromisingforpatientsinrespiratorydistress.Ifpleuraleffusionissuspected,aVDimageis
recommendedbecausethelungsandheartcanbeobscuredonDVview.14 Heartbasetumors,caninedilated
cardiomyopathy,congenitalheartdiseases,andcongestiveheartfailureareamongthediseasesaffectingtheheartthat
radiographscanhelp
diagnose.

AbdominalRadiographs
Standardprojectionsforabdominalradiographsarerightand/orleftlateralandVDviews.Otherviewscanbetakenifneeded
(e.g.,DV,rightorleftoblique,standinglateralwithhorizontalbeam).Therightlateralisthemostcommonlyusedprojectionin
radiologybecauseitallowslongitudinalseparationofthekidneys.12 Forarightlateralradiograph,thepatientisplacedinright
lateralrecumbencywiththehindlimbsextendedcaudally.Extendingthehindlimbscaudallyeliminatessuperimpositionofthe
femoralmusclesoverthecaudalportionoftheabdomen.Afoampadcanbeplacedbetweenthefemurstohelpeliminate
rotationofthepelvisanothercanbeplacedunderthesternumtoelevateittothelevelofthethoracicspine.12
ForVDradiographs,thepatientisplacedindorsalrecumbencywithitshindlimbsinnormalflexion.SandbagsoraVtrough
canhelpkeepthepatientinproperVDposition.Whencollimatingtheradiographicfield,thecraniallandmarkisthediaphragm
andthecaudallandmarkisthefemoralhead.8,12 Theexposureshouldbetakenduringtheexpiratoryphaseofrespirationso
thatthediaphragmiscraniallydisplacedandnotcompressingtheabdominalcontents.8,12Iftheanimalislarge,itmaybe
difficulttoimagetheentireabdomenononefilm.Inthesecases,tworadiographsareneededoneofthecranialabdomen
andoneofthecaudalabdomen.Abdominalradiographscanbeusedtohelpdiagnosemanyconditions,suchasenlargement
oftheliver,spleen,kidney,orstomachsplenicabscessorrupturegastricdilatation"volvulusintestinalobstructionlinear
foreignbodyperinealherniarupturedbladderandcysticcalculi.
Liver
Theliverconsistsofsixlobesinthedogandcat:leftmedial,leftlateral,rightmedial,rightlateral,caudate,andquadrate.
Normalliverappearanceonradiographsvarieswiththepatient'sbodyconformation,age,overallbodycondition,stageof
respiration,andposture.Theliverusuallyhassharpmargins.Thecranialsurfaceofthelivertouchesthediaphragmand
appearslargeronrightlateralthanonleftlateralimages.Thelivercanappearsmallerduringexpirationthanduringinspiration
becauseofthedifferentpositionsofthenormaldiaphragm.15
Gallbladder
Thegallbladderisapearshaped,fluidfilledstructurethatconsistsofabody,aroundedendorfundus,andaneckthattapers
intothecysticduct.Itislocatedbetweenthequadratelobeofthelivermediallyandtherightmediallobeoftheliverlaterally
andispartofthebiliarysystem.Thegallbladdercannotbeseenseparatelyfromthelivertherefore,itcannotbeseenon
radiographsunlessthereisaproblemwithit(e.g.,ifseverelyenlarged,thegallbladdermightbeseenasamassprotruding
fromtheliver).15
Spleen
Thespleenisaflat,elongated,softtissueorganlocatedinthecranialleftabdomen,caudaltothestomach.Itconsistsofa
dorsalextremity(thehead),amidsection(thebody),andaventralextremity(thetail).Normally,thespleenhassharp,smooth
margins.Itslocationdependsonthepositionofthepatientwhentheradiographistakenandtheconditionofadjacent
abdominalviscera.Forexample,ifthestomachisempty,thespleenmightbeseenintheleftabdomen,butifthestomachis
distendedwithfluid,gas,oringesta,thespleenmightbeseenmorecaudallyinthecentralabdomen.15
Pancreas
Thepancreasisasmall,dense,softtissueorganlocatedadjacenttothecranialborderofthetransversecolonandconsistsof
aleftandarightlimb.Theleftlimbislocatedadjacenttothecaudalborderofthegastricbody,andtherightlimbismedialto
thedescendingduodenum.Thenormalpancreasisnotvisibleonradiographs.15
Stomach

Locatedwithintheribcage,thestomachcomprisesthecardia,fundus,body,pyloricantrum,andpyloriccanal.The
radiographicappearanceofthestomachdependsonthevolumeandtypeofgastriccontents(e.g.,fluid,gas,ingesta)andthe
positionoftheanimalwhentheradio
graphwastaken.Gravityusuallymovesfluidstomachcontentstothedependentarea
(downside)ofthestomachgasrisestothenondependentarea(upside).15
SmallIntestine
Thesmallintestineincludestheduodenum,jejunum,andileum.Distributionofthesmallintestinewithintheabdomenvaries
dependingonthepatient'sconformation,itsnutritionalstatus,andthesize,shape,andpositionofadjacentabdominalviscera
(e.g.,emptyversusdistendedurinarybladder).Inobeseanimals,fatwithintheabdomencandisplacethesmallintestineinto
thecentralabdomenbetweenthestomachandurinarybladder.Inthinanimals,thesmallintestinecanextendfromtheliverto
thepelviccavity.15
LargeIntestine
Thelargeintestinecomprisesthececum,colon,rectum,andanalcanal.Indogs,thececumistheshapeofacorkscrewor"C."
Incats,thececumisasmall,coneshapedstructure.Thecoloncanberecognizedbytheshape,size,andlocationofthe
ascending,transverse,anddescendingsections.Therectumislocatedbetweenthedescendingcolonandtheanalcanal.The
normallargeintestinecanbeidentifiedbythepresenceofgas,fluid,andfecalmaterialwithinthelumen.Theamountofmatter
inthecolonaffectsitsposition,shape,andsize.Asaruleofthumb,thenormaldiameterofthecolonislessthanthelengthof
theseventhlumbarvertebraandnolargerthanthreetimesthediameterofthesmallintestine.15
Kidneys
Thekidneysarelocatedinthedorsalretroperitonealspaceoftheabdomeninnormaldogsandcats.Indogs,therightkidney
islocatednearT13toL1incats,itislocatednearL1toL4.ThepositionoftheleftkidneyismorevariablebutisnearL2toL4
indogsandnearL2toL5incats.Bothkidneysshouldhavesmoothmarginsandbesimilarinshapeandsize.Anormal
caninekidneyisbeanshapedanormalfelinekidneyismorerounded.Thekidneyscanbeeasilyseenincatsandobese
dogs.Theyaredifficulttovisualizeinyoungcatsanddogs,emaciatedanimals,oranimalswithretroperitonealdisease.16
UrinaryBladder
Theurinarybladderisaroundedorteardropshapedorganlocatedwithinthecaudalabdomencranialtothepubisandventral
totherectumanddescendingcolon.Theurinarybladdercanvaryinsizeand,whenfull,canbedisplacedcraniallyinthe
smallintestine.16

Conclusion
Radiographsareavaluablediagnostictoolinveterinarymedicine,andradiographytechnologycontinuestoadvance.Digital
radiographynowmakestakingradiographseveneasierbyeliminatingthetraditionalstepsofusingafilmcassetteand
developingthefilminthedarkroom.Instead,theimageappearsonacomputerscreenwithinsecondsofexposure,allowing
thewaitingveterinariantobegininterpretationsoonerandreducingdelayinpatientcare.However,untiltheuseofradiationis
eliminatedaltogether,propersafetyprecautions,radiographictechnique,andpatientpositioningwillcontinuetobeimportant.
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