Thoracic Radiography

Thoracic Radiographs of Dogs & Cats

Radiology plays a crucial role in the diagnostic process, providing valuable information about the heart, lungs, and chest cavity in animals. They help us make informed decisions regarding the management and treatment of various respiratory and cardiac conditions.


Radiographs, commonly known as X-rays, are routinely used in veterinary hospitals to obtain valuable diagnostic information about the heart, lungs, and chest cavity in dogs and cats. Listed below are some of the key purposes for obtaining radiographs in veterinary medicine:


  1. Heart evaluation
  2. Lung evaluation
  3. Fluid evaluation
  4. Evaluation of the area in front of and behind the heart
  5. Evaluation of blood vessels

Heart evaluation

Radiographs can provide an impression of the size, shape, and position of the heart. Enlargement or abnormalities in the heart size or shape may indicate heart disease. Radiographs can also help assess the position of the heart within the chest and identify potential complications.


Lung Evaluation

X-rays are valuable in evaluating the lungs for diseases of the airways, lung tissue, or blood vessels. They can help detect conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), lung tumors, or signs of metastasis from cancer in other areas of the body.


Fluid evaluation

Radiographs can help identify the presence of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) or fluid within the chest cavity(pleural effusion). This fluid accumulation can be caused by various conditions, including congestive heart failure, trauma, or infection. Radiographs can assist in determining the extent and location of the fluid.


Evaluation of the area in front of and behind the heart

X-rays can provide information about structures located in front of and behind the heart, such as the trachea, esophagus, lymph nodes, and other thoracic structures. Abnormalities in these areas can help guide further diagnostic investigations.


Evaluation of blood vessels

Radiographs can reveal information about the blood vessels within the chest, including the pulmonary arteries and veins. They can aid in diagnosing conditions such as pulmonary thromboembolism or vascular anomalies.


Radiographs are usually obtained with the animal positioned appropriately on an X-ray table, and the X-ray machine is directed toward the chest area. Although typically unnecessary sedation or anesthesia may be used to ensure the animal remains still during the procedure, allowing for high-quality diagnostic images.