VCA Bay Area Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Hospital

Interventional Radiology

What Is A Veterinary Radiologist?

A board certified specialist in veterinary radiology is a licensed veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in all aspects of radiology, such as radiographs (x-rays), ultrasonography, CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, and biopsy techniques. A veterinary radiologist is trained to make optimal use of sophisticated, high tech equipment that can aid in the diagnosis and proper treatment of many serious diseases.

Specialists in veterinary radiology typically work in support of general practitioner veterinarians and other specialists. The signs of disease on a veterinary x-ray or ultrasound are often very subtle. It can take significant expertise to read these subtle signs. However, they are less likely to be missed or misinterpreted if an expert in veterinary radiology is consulted.

Why Does My Pet Need To Be Referred to A Veterinary Radiologist?

Specialists in veterinary radiology frequently work in a support role with general practitioner veterinarians or other types of specialists in order to help:

  • Pinpoint a diagnosis
  • Confirm a course of treatment
  • Identify traumatic injuries
  • Provide additional expertise or a second opinion by reviewing routine x-rays, ultrasounds, etc.
  • Assist in performing biopsies or fine needle aspirates
  • Provide radiation treatment to pets with cancer

Some general practices have board certified veterinary radiologists on staff within their own hospitals. In other cases, general practitioners will consult with or refer patients to veterinary radiologists at referral practices. While many general practitioners routinely take radiographs or offer ultrasonography in their own practices, board certified radiologists are frequently needed for additional consultation. Thanks to the magic of telemedicine, veterinary radiologists can also review images and offer consultation remotely to any practice via the Internet.

When a pet needs a CT scan, an MRI, or radiation treatment, these types of sophisticated medical services typically can be obtained at veterinary imaging referral centers or university sites staffed by boarded specialists. Due to the expense of the equipment and the specialized training required, these types of services are generally available only at such referral facilities.

While your general practitioner veterinarian can handle many aspects of your pet's care, just as in human medicine, there is sometimes a need for the attention of a specialist to either take over the pet's treatment or work in tandem with the doctor as veterinary radiologists typically do. You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet for more specialized diagnostic work or treatment is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of medical care for his or her problem.

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved In My Pet's Care?

Yes. In almost all cases, your regular veterinarian will still supervise your pet's veterinary care. Veterinary radiologists typically work in concert with general practitioner veterinarians and other specialists to diagnose and treat pet's injuries and illnesses. They help provide your primary care veterinarian with additional information about your pet's health status.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Additional Training Does A Boarded Veterinary Radiologist Have?

Veterinarians who want to become board certified in radiology must seek additional, intensive training to become a specialist and earn this prestigious credentialing. Specialty status is granted by the American College of Veterinary Radiologists (ACVR). A veterinarian who has achieved this specialty status will list the initials, 'DACVR,' after his or her DVM degree. Or, the veterinarian may indicate that he or she is a 'Diplomate' of the ACVR. The word 'Diplomate' typically means the specialist has achieved the following:

• Obtained a traditional 8-year veterinary degree (four years of college plus four years of veterinary school).

• Completed an additional three years of advanced training, including a residency at a veterinary teaching hospital or approved alternate position where the veterinarian will have trained with some of the best experts in the field and obtained hands on experience.

• Completed the credentialing application process established by the ACVR.

• Passed a rigorous examination.

Board certified veterinary radiologists may seek additional credentialing in radiation oncology, a recognized affiliate of the ACVR. These veterinarians are specially trained to provide radiation treatments to veterinary cancer patients. After completing and passing all of these rigorous requirements, the veterinarian is then recognized by his or her peers as a board certified specialist in veterinary radiology, with any areas of special emphasis noted. When your pet needs the expertise of a veterinary radiologist, years of intensive training and additional education will be focused on helping to properly diagnose the problem and establish the optimal treatment course

What Health Problems Require The Help of a Veterinary Radiologist?

The expertise of a board certified veterinary radiologist is helpful in any of the following situations:

• Surgical cases
• Internal medicine cases of all kinds

• Trauma cases (when assessing the extent of injury)

• Brain, spinal cord, or disc problems

• Tumor evaluation Biopsies Cancer treatment (radiation oncology)

Why Does My Pet Need a CT scan or MRI?

Some areas of your pet's body are difficult to view with conventional radiographic techniques. Both CT and MRI can sometimes provide more accurate views or additional information that would not be available through routine radiography. All diagnostic imaging techniques'"CT, MRI, radiographs, ultrasound'"are especially helpful to veterinarians as animal patients cannot tell us what is wrong.

How Does Radiation Therapy Work?

Radiation oncologists use a linear accelerator, a machine that directs beams of energy, to treat specific areas of your pet's body. Radiation therapy works by sterilizing the targeted tumor cells, making them unable to reproduce and grow and resulting in tumor shrinkage. Your veterinary oncologist or internal medicine specialist will develop a radiation treatment plan in conjunction with the radiation oncologist.

What Is A Contrast Agent?

A contrast agent is a substance that is administered to your pet intravenously that helps determine the amount of blood flow to a particular tissue area. This contrast agent can help the veterinary radiologist determine whether the tissue is normal, inflamed, or cancerous. The agent can also help determine the edges of where abnormal tissue ends and normal tissue begins.

If your pet is in need of a specialist in veterinary radiology, discuss it with your VCA general practitioner vet or find a board certified VCA veterinary radiologist near you.


General Practice

We have over 600 animal hospitals in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces that are staffed by more than 3,000 fully-qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 400 being board-certified specialists.

The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments such as wellness, spay/neuter, advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, boarding, and grooming. Services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Emergency Care

If your pet is having a medical emergency, please do not hesitate to bring your pet in. If you need to contact us, please call:

(510) 483-7387

We offer emergency and urgent care and critical care services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including weekends and holidays, allowing us to carefully monitor your pet and provide continuous medical care. We accept walk-ins as well as transfer cases from area veterinarians.

The Emergency Service is available exclusively to treat pets in an emergency, when the family veterinarian is unavailable. Once the pet's condition is stabilized, the patient will be released or returned to the regular veterinarian for continued care.