Historically the use of X-rays, (radiography) was the fundamental means of imaging patients. There is no doubt that radiography still has a major role to play in veterinary surgery and is often the primary and sole means of investigating many orthopaedic, spinal and soft tissue conditions. Contrast radiography expands the capabilities of standard X-ray by enhancing soft tissue structures and organs otherwise not clearly visible on conventional radiographs.
Ultrasound is a valuable imaging modality that allows a non-invasive assessment of a wide variety of body systems. Most people are familiar with the use of Ultrasound for the assessment of pregnancy, but its application is suitable for imaging of cardiac, hepatic, urogenital, gastrointestinal, reproductive and other soft tissue structures (tendons, muscles and cutaeneous masses).
Computed tomography (CT) is essentially an advanced form of X-ray producing a series of images (slices) of the patient. Advances in technology now means that CT is the most holistic imaging modality, combining fast data acquisition with high resolution images in any part of the body.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a computer assisted system that uses powerful magnetic fields and radiowaves to generate images of the body. It is most commonly used for neurological investigations of the brain and spinal cord, but also has wider applications in diagnostic imaging of other soft tissue structures and oncology.