Radiology fulfills a number of functions in veterinary practice. Beyond the obvious uses of diagnostic imaging equipment, it’s useful to remember that X-rays are an important profit center in many practices. That is, of course, contingent on getting it right; radiographic faults, as the industry resource Vet Times reminds us, can be a source of frustration, misdiagnoses, and lost profits. With that in mind, Great Lakes Imaging has some simple tips to help you get it right.
Ensure Proper Positioning
Modern medical imaging equipment provides better resolution than ever before, allowing vets to identify and treat common (and uncommon) medical problems and improve outcomes. But your diagnostic tools rely on their operator and the diagnostician, so ensure that you’re positioning the patient properly for the region in question and making enough images for a proper diagnosis to be possible. With patience, it’s possible to get it right the first time and cut down on the number of retakes that are necessary.
Use Proper Restraints
It’s hard enough to get a proper exposure on a cooperative human subject. It’s harder still for technicians working with animals who are in unfamiliar surroundings, and who are being handled by someone who—no matter how professional, caring, and gentle—is unfamiliar to them. Using manual restraint or sandbags can be helpful in this regard. However, if you’re dealing with an animal that’s anxious or agitated, a mild sedative can be an even bigger help. It’s not enough to get the animal into position, after all; keeping them in position long enough for a series of proper exposures will lead to less anxiety for all involved (including you).
Nobody wants to be their own nightlight. A single x-ray isn’t harmful for the patient or the person administering it. But technicians typically take hundreds per year, so anything that decreases exposure—from proper protection to not taking unnecessary X-rays—should be embraced.
Ensure Proper Protection
Speaking of proper protection, your approach should be twofold. On the one hand, proper medical radiation shielding in its many forms (stationary and mobile barriers, lead walls, lead glass, and lead curtains) is an absolute necessity. So too, however, is personal protective equipment, including lead aprons and gloves, glasses, and other gear that protects your staff. That said, there’s also no substitute for care or common sense; these protective measures are designed to minimize exposure to excess background radiation, not from exposure to a direct beam.
Proper Maintenance Matters
PPE is not the only means at your disposal to limit exposure to radiation. Proper maintenance of durable medical equipment like your shielding and X-ray machine are also vital. Something as simple—and too often, overlooked—as proper collimation limits accidental exposure. It has follow-on effects, too, since a properly collimated machine provides more accurate dosing and higher image quality. Ensure that your equipment is maintained on schedule and checked constantly for any signs of trouble.
Running a veterinary practice is as challenging as it is rewarding. For help meeting the challenges to maximize the rewards, get in touch with Great Lakes Imaging. We’re more than an inventory of veterinary equipment for sale—we offer advice and solutions that help from day to day.