Diagnostic Imaging

Imaging showing canine ultrasound examination

Almost 5,000 Small Animal and 1,000 Large Animal cases go through the UCDVH Diagnostic Imaging unit each year.  The unit provides a full range of Diagnostic Imaging services for all internal patients admitted to the Hospital, but also a variety of services for external cases referred to the UCDVH by veterinary practitioners or booked in directly by clients.  All of our equipment is state of the art, veterinary dedicated and operated by our expert team.


Services for Internal Cases

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Our state of the art equipment includes:

  • Small animal Direct Radiography system: Siemens Axiom Aristos FX Plus DR with moving tube and detector
  • Large animal system: Siemens Vertix Vet that can be used with both Direct Radiography and Computer Radiography
  • A portable machine
  • Two mobile machines??

The recent acquisition of two portable DR plates has added great versatility to both small and large animal radiography.  In equine radiography, they have reduced greatly the time required to complete a radiographic study and therefore the amount of sedation needed for the horse; furthermore they can also be used to perform intra-operative studies or on cases where a patient cannot be moved from ICU or isolation for welfare/safety reasons.

Fluoroscopy allows us to assess internal structures of the body, similar to a radiograph, but whilst moving.  Because the images are immediately available, fluoroscopy can be used in surgical theatres during orthopaedic surgeries to assess the placement of implants, such as screws and plates.  The UCDVH has three C-arm Siremobil 4K machines that can be easily moved to various locations within the Hospital as required.

From abdominal organs, to thyroids, hearts and tendons, ultrasound can provide useful information across a range of cases.  In the UCDVH DI unit, there are two ultrasound suites; one to perform abdominal studies with a dedicated GE Logic 9 and 4 transducers 4-10, 8-15, 3-5 MHz; and one to perform echocardiographic studies with a dedicated GE Vivid.

We also have two smaller, portable US machines: a BCF Micromax with two transducers (6-13Mhz linear phased array and 1-5 sector phased array) and a BCF Micromax Turbo with two transducers (6-13Mhz linear phased array and 1-5 sector phased array).  These machines are mostly used for equine abdominal and musculoskeletal scanning, but also when we are called out to cases in Dublin Zoo.

Once a month we host a cardiology day with Dr. Anne French, a specialist cardiologist, who performs cardiac scans for certifications for breeds such as Newfoundland, Bernese Mountain dogs, Dobermanns etc.  Dr French also reviews specialist cases from the Hospital.

CT is a very versatile diagnostic imaging technique that uses X-radiation to create tomographic images of the body; the result is a 3D image of any organ/structure of the body from a carpus joint to a porto-systemic shunt.  The UCDVH has the only CT scanner in the Republic of Ireland for veterinary use, a 4-slice Siemens Somaton sensation, with two tables, one for small animals and one for horses.

The clinical indications for performing CT scans are almost endless, and range from nasal disease to abdominal masses and elbow dysplasia in small animals to dental disease and sinusitis in horses.  The procedure times are usually very short and in many cases sedation is sufficient.

CT scans are mostly performed on inpatients; however, we also provide a service for direct external referrals from veterinary surgeons. This is ONLY dedicated to elective scans in dogs that are clinically stable and DO NOT need to be anaesthetized for the scan (e.g. investigation of elbow dysplasia or shoulder osteochondrosis).  The cost of this service varies with the area of interest and can be booked by calling the DI unit directly on (01) 716 6098.

MRI is the technique of choice for investigating neurological (seizures, blindness, ataxia etc) and musculo-tendineous disorders.  A mobile MRI unit is available to the UCDVH twice monthly.  At 1.5 Tesla, the magnet in the MRI truck provides top quality images for investigation of brain, spinal cord, nerves, musculo-tendineous structures and abdominal organs.

MRI scans are mostly performed on inpatients and always under general anaesthesia; in exceptional cases, we accept direct referrals from veterinary practices.  The cost of this service varies with the area of interest; enquiries and bookings can be made by calling the DI unit directly on (01) 716 6098.


Services for External Cases

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This service is provided to clients interested in obtaining a score from the BVA for their dog.  The person bringing the dog to the Hospital should be the registered owner, and they will need to provide the animal's Certificate of Registration to the Irish (or English) Kennel Club.  The dog should be older than 1 year and microchipped; these are essential pre-requisites for the scoring process.

The animal is brought to the Hospital in the morning (usually a Friday), fasting from 4pm the day before.  The animal will be sedated, before radiographs of the hips and/or the elbows are obtained; once radiographs of optimal quality are acquired, the sedation is reversed and the dog is ready to go back home within half an hour (as long as the clinician or anaesthesist in charge is happy that the animal can travel).  The whole procedure takes approximately an hour.

Copies of the radiographs are sent to the British Veterinary Association in London for scoring.  The results can take between 4 and 6 weeks to come back; the form is sent back to the UCDVH who then forward the original document to the client.

The cost for this service is as follows:

Cost for the Hospital (to be paid in UCDVH Reception at discharge) includes sedation and radiographs
         - Hips: €125
         - Hips and elbows: €227

Cost for BVA scoring (to be paid via credit card or sterling bank draft)
         - Hips: £60
         - Hips and elbows: £108

Both costs must be covered by the client.  This service can be booked by calling the DI unit directly on (01) 716 6098.

Clients interested in confirming a pregnancy of their bitch or queen can avail of this service. The scan is performed after at least 28 days of gestation to ensure cardiac beat is present; it gives an approximate idea of the number of foetus/i, and also their viability. The client is allowed to stay in the US room to provide comfort to their pet. A small amount of hair clipping in the abdomen is usually required.

The cost of this service is €100 and it can be booked by calling the DI unit directly on (01) 716 6098.

Both inpatients and direct referral cases can avail of a cardiology service that includes a complete visit and electrocardiogram by the expert cardiologist Dr. Brendan Glazier and an echocardiogram performed by one of our specialist imagers. Obtaining images in B-mode, M-mode the radiologist can assess the size of the cardiac chambers, presence of cardiac defects, cardiac contractility and, using Doppler technology, the velocity of blood flows and regurgitations at the valves etc. The exam is performed in a quiet, dark room, and the animal is not sedated.

The cost of this service is €100 and it can be booked through the UCDVH Reception at (01) 716 6000.


Other Services

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The specialist radiologists in our unit provide a film reading service to veterinary practitioners in need of a radiological opinion on their cases.

Radiographs can be sent in:
•    Hard copy by post (standard or registered) to Radiology Unit, UCD Veterinary Hospital, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4  
•    Electronic format (DICOM format where possible) to vetdiagnosticimaging@ucd.ie

The waiting time for an oral response is usually within 24 hours; opinions on the cases are given orally, unless a written report is specifically requested.

The prices for this service are as follows:
•    Oral report: €30
•    Written report: €100 (for insurance purposes etc)