X-Rays and Anaesthesia. Why these two go hand in hand

Have you ever wondered why your vet often quotes a fee for sedation or anaesthesia when your pet needs X-Rays?

Because our animal patients can’t be told to lie still.

If you’ve ever had X-rays taken then you’d know all about the importance of keeping extremely still while the Radiologist steps behind the safety screen and clicks the shutter on the X-Ray machine.

Unfortunately – vets don’t have that luxury. Our patients don’t understand those kind of instructions. They don’t take too kindly to being placed upside down on a table and splaying their limbs. They’d much prefer to jump off the table and bolt for the door.

So, the only solution to getting a compliant patient – and a clear picture is to send them to sleep for the procedure.

This allows us to position the patient correctly and capture the clearest pictures without exposing them and their handlers to unecessary, harmful radiation.

Sedating dog for X-Rays

We all know that any exposure to radiation is dangerous and so it’s important that safety protocols are followed when using this powerful tool. In radiology – every picture must be held accountable! There’s no room for trial and error and multiple shots just to get one quality image.

By giving your pet a short anaesthetic or a sedative (depending on the situation) – we not only ensure the safety of our staff, we are also minimising your pets’ exposure to harmful radiation. In addition, it’s less stressful for your pet – and far less painful, especially if sore or broken limbs are involved.

Sometimes we have people who insist we take X-Rays without any form of sedation. Please understand – this is not your call to make. As employers of health workers, we have a legal obligation to ensure that strict safety protocols are followed when performing radiographic procedures.

There are of course situations where sedation or anaesthesia is not necessary.

  • The patient is exceptionally compliant and can be adequately positioned with minimal physical restraint
  • The patient is classified as a high anaesthesia risk – due to age or underlying condition
  • Pregnancy – X-Rays to determine or confirm pregnancy are performed without chemical restraint

On admission of your pet for X-Rays we will always obtain your consent for sedation or anaesthesia as a standard. Once we’ve examined your pet we’ll then use our professional judgement as to whether chemical restraint will be necessary to get the images we need.

Hope you understand, safety is important – for everyone.