Abdominal X-rays in Dogs with Upset Stomach
If your dog presents with a history of repeated vomiting, retching, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea or constipation, your vet will likely perform a physical examination and this will include palpating the abdomen and listening for digestive sounds with the stethoscope.
Because the dog’s digestive tract is not visible from the outside, your vet will likely want to further investigate by having some abdominal x-rays done to have a better look at what is going on inside.
Benefits of Abdominal X-rays in Diagnosis
X-rays may be helpful in providing an initial assessment that is fairly quick and can provide valuable information. An x-ray may reveal problems that cannot be otherwise felt, heard or seen through physical examination alone. X-rays alone can also often provide sufficient information whether surgical intervention is warranted.
When x-rays of the dog’s abdomen are taken, the dog’s liver, stomach, intestines, bladder, uterus and prostate can be visualized. These organs can be evaluated for changes in shape and sizes. Even the positioning of the surrounding organs may provide important clues. For instance, the stomach’s position may be altered if there is enlargement of the liver or the presence of a mass. The duodenum may appear distended with gas in the case of pancreatitis.
When it comes to intestinal blockage derived from swallowing foreign items, x-rays may be helpful but they have their limitations.
Plastic materials may not show up effectively. Also, tumors may blend in with the surrounding organs as they both show up as shades of gray. Therefore, while effective in diagnosing some conditions, x-rays are only two-dimensional, therefore, additional tests such as endoscopy, ultrasounds, contrast x-rays to highlight certain areas and even exploratory surgery may be necessary.
Other than abdominal x-rays, chest x-rays may be helpful too so to see if there’s some problem with the dog’s esophagus.
Dog Abdominal X-rays, What Happens?
Your dog will be placed on his side to obtain the lateral view and on his back for the ventrodorsal view. While anesthesia is not needed in most cases, particularly fractious dogs may require a tranquilizer or light anesthesia. It is important that the dog stay completely still as motion causes blurry images.
Within 20 to 30 minutes, the pictures are developed (even less for digital x-rays) and ready for the vet to interpret. Because different tissues absorb different amounts of electromagnetic radiation, the vet will look at the different shades of light and dark.
What’s the Price of Dog X-rays?
Generally, the price of a dog x-ray may range between $40 and $100, while any additional x-rays may range between $20 to 75. This does not include the office visit which may range between $45 and $90. The costs will further go up should sedation or anesthesia be required.
Naturally, these are rough estimates that vary based on location. If you really want to get a more precise quote, simply call around and ask different veterinary offices. They should be able to give you a rough estimate.
Michigan State University: Abdominal Radiography in the Acute Abdomen