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More Than the Eye Can See: CT

Posted March 15, 2017 in Articles

A Blog from Doctor Lomas, Internal Medicine Specialist

Veterinarians rely on most of their senses to perform a physical exam.  Our hands palpate lymph nodes and abdominal organs.  The sense of smell can detect unusual odors on the breath or body which may indicate systemic disease.  Listening to the heart and lungs is amplified with a stethoscope.  Although looking at all parts of a pet is perhaps the most important part of the examination, there are some regions of the body where visualization is difficult. 

Examination of the nasal cavity and sinuses can be challenging due to small patient size and limited accessibility in regard to the sinuses.  Since the introduction of computed tomography (CT), scans with incredible detail can be performed in only a matter of a few minutes.  Each slice can be as small as 0.75 millimeters thick, allowing us to capture images from the tip of the nose to the back of the head without interference from fluid or adjacent anatomical structures. This modality aids in the diagnosis of a number of conditions, for example: 

    *Dental disease: abscesses involving one or more tooth roots

    *Lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis +/- suppurative

    (of dolichocephalic and mesaticephalic dogs)

    *Allergic rhinitis & viral rhinitis

    *Chronic rhinosinusitis (feline)

    *Fungal (ex.aspergillosis in our region dogs, cryptococus in cats)

    *Mycoplasma spp

    *Nasal tumors or polyps

    *Nasal foreign bodies

A CT also provides information on whether or not there is any destruction of bone due to severe inflammation or masses.

Indications for a nasal work-up include chronic nasal discharge (especially if blood is present), nasal congestion, sneezing, and snorting.  A CT scan is recommended first to determine where the disease is present.  Rhinoscopy can then be performed to directly visualize the nasal passages.  Biopsies allow for a definitive diagnosis of what disease process is present.

Doctor Lomas practices at Southern New Hampshire Veterinary Referral Hospital where CT, MRI and advanced diagnostics are offered for pets.  Please ask your family veterinarian if you feel your pet could benefit from a CT Scan.

  Dachshund mix  w/grade 1 nasal osteosarcoma
CT Scan of Dachshund Mix
with grade 1 nasal osteosarcoma