Hamilton Specialist Referrals's home page
  • Call our surgery01494 578566

Diagnostic Imaging

Our imaging service allows us to view internal images of our patients

To ensure your pet does not have to go through unnecessary invasive treatment, we provide a range of advanced diagnostic imaging to identify the root cause of problems and create a bespoke solution of corrective treatments. Our imaging service allows us to view internal images of our patients, including bones, tissues, organs, nerves and tendons. The images then allow our specialist teams to diagnose and develop treatment plans in patients across all disciplines we see at HSR. These images often prove invaluable in outcomes of treatment and potential surgery for our patients.

Please visit the corresponding pages for more information on the diagnostic imaging tools we have available at HSR. Please remember that your specialist will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

  • CT
  • MRI scan
  • Digital Radiography
  • Ultrasound
  • Fluoroscopy


What is CT?

A CT scan, also known as computed tomography scan or a computerised axial tomography (CAT) scan, is a computerised x-ray imaging procedure that generates cross-sectional images, or “slices” of the body. Once a number of successive slices are collected by the machine’s computer, they can be digitally “stacked” together to form a three-dimensional image of the patient. This allows for easier identification of body structures and for accurate surgical planning.

Unlike x-ray, a CT scan can differentiate between different types of soft tissue and thus can be used in the investigation of a wide range of non-orthopaedic diseases. CT scans are also particularly useful in oncology cases, both in delineating the extent of a primary tumour and in assessing for metastatic disease. With the administration of an intravenous contrast agent, a ‘contrast’ CT can detect subtle regions of pathology within a wide range of body tissues.

How does it work?

A CT scanner uses a motorised x-ray source that shoots x-rays as it rotates around the body. Special detectors are located directly opposite the x-ray source and each time the x-ray source completes one full rotation, a computer then produces a 2D image or a ‘slice’ of the patient. In a 16-slice scanner there are 16 detectors and thus each revolution acquires 16 slices simultaneously.

When a full slice is completed, the image is stored, the motorised bed moved forward incrementally and then the process is repeated to produce another image slice. This process continues until the desired number of slices is collected. A full body CT can be acquired in less than one minute in most patients.

Why CT?

Image slices can be displayed individually, which allows the region of interest to be viewed without with any superimposition of other structures. This is invaluable in orthopaedics and at HSR we routinely use CT scanning in the assessment of elbow dysplasia, specifically with regard to the diagnosis fragmentation of the coronoid process (FCP). CT is also the gold standard for the diagnosis of humeral intercondylar fissures, a problem commonly seen in Spaniels and Labradors.

Individual images can also be ‘stacked’ together by the computer to generate a 3D image of the patient. These reconstructed 3D images can then be rotated and be viewed from any angle. They, in turn, can be used to make custom implants and cutting guides using sophisticated computer software and 3D printing technology.

Which cases is CT most effective in?

  • For assessment of complex anatomic areas such as the skull or spine
  • Planning of complex fracture repair
  • For soft tissue and oncological cases
  • Investigation of diseases of the thorax and abdomen, as the rapid acquisition of the images negates the movement artefact that would occur during an MRI scan.

Our CT scanner

Our Canon Medical Aquilion Lightning 16 is a 16-slice CT scanner, customised for use in small animals, with a high-resolution detector incorporating the smallest elements of any CT scanner, giving slices of 0.5mm. The scanner is particularly high speed, providing fast examination times and reducing the amount of anaesthesia required.

MRI scan

What is an MRI scan?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses strong, static magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. This is achieved through aligning the usually randomly orientated atomic nuclei of hydrogen atoms in the patient’s body.

A radio frequency (RF) pulse is then applied, forcing the spinning hydrogen protons to wobble. Once the RF pulse is turned off, the wobbling of the hydrogen protons generates a small electrical signal. The signal is detected by RF coils, which need to be positioned as close to the anatomical area of interest as possible. The rate at which the protons return to their equilibrium state distinguishes different bodily tissues.

Why MRI?

  • MRI is able to distinguish subtle differences in the physical make up of body tissues and so provides detailed, high-resolution images of internal structures.
  • MRI is able to image through bony structures and so is the treatment of choice for image of the spine, spinal cord and brain disorders.
  • With the use of various ‘sequences’ MRI can be used to detect many different disease processes such as inflammation, haemorrhage and with the addition of appropriate contrast agents is invaluable in the investigation of neoplastic processes anywhere in the body.
  • MRI can be more cost-effective than combining various alternative diagnostics, is safe and non-invasive

Which cases is MRI most effective in?

  • Diagnosis of spinal cord compression and spinal cord injury
  • Brain tumours
  • Tendon and ligament injuries
  • Investigation of seizures
  • Vestibular problems
  • Neck and back pain
  • Nasal discharge

Our MRI Machine

At HSR we have a 1.5 Tesla MRI machine specifically manufactured for use in animals. High-field MRI produces clearer images because it has stronger magnets and a higher field strength. Aside from the obvious benefits regarding image quality, high field MRI is much quicker than low field counterparts.

Hallmarq have come up with variety of innovations applicable to veterinary patients. Amongst others, PetVet’s unique veterinary head coil uses an elongated design to give greater coverage than a standard human head coil, which is particularly effective in acquiring excellent images of the spine in small dogs and cats.

In contrast, there is a large V-shaped coil, developed specifically with large dogs in mind, making it possible to scan the entire spine of large and giant breeds, without having to move the patient for scanning of different regions. With the addition of dual coil capability for imaging difficult areas, we are delighted to be able to offer this wonderful facility for our patients.

Digital Radiography

Digital Radiography

Radiography is essential in veterinary diagnostics. Here at HSR we use digital radiography which allows for the images to be accessed immediately, removing the need to wait for processing. This means we can share the images across the hospital if they are needed by colleagues at their desk or on our monitors in operating theatres.

What are X-rays?

Using ionising radiation, X-rays or radiographs are two-dimensional high-resolution images used to assess bone and joint diseases and malformations. A beam in the form of an X-ray is directed over the area of the body under investigation. The soft tissues are unable to absorb the radiation, whereas dense tissues such as bones absorb the radiation and thus produce an image.

Why X-ray?

Radiographs are very advantageous and accurate in orthopaedic workups and are generally the first diagnostic imaging tool used before other modalities like CT or MRI scans. Radiographs also provide a fast and cost-effective method in diagnosis.

Which cases are X-rays most effective in?

  • Orthopaedic problems: limb deformities, lameness and fractures
  • Diagnosis of bone tumours
  • Assessing the abdomen
  • Checking organs
  • Viewing changes in tumours or tissues such as tumours, cysts or stones



What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound uses sound waves sent into the body via an ultrasound probe. The reflection of these sound waves, or echo, are reflected to the main machine, which then convert the sound into images of the internal body structures.

Why ultrasound?

Ultrasound is considered essential in many clinical scenarios, particularly abdominal, musculoskeletal imaging and internal medicine diagnoses and therapies. Ultrasounds are also useful for guided biopsy taking, where the live scan can be used direct needles to the site of interest.

Which cases is ultrasound most effective in?

  • Foreign objects
  • Urinary tract issues
  • Gastrointestinal tract issues
  • Respiratory tract issues
  • Ultrasound guided biopsy taking


What is Fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is an advanced diagnostic imaging tool that creates a continuous series of x-ray images that enables viewing of the organs in real time, creating an x-ray video. The video allows for determination of when problems occur and thus can be used in refining diagnosis. Due to the nature of the tool, it is not necessary for the patient to be completely still as with x-rays.

Why Fluoroscopy?

  • Allows for several images to be captured to create a moving x-ray which can then be viewed in real time

Which cases is Fluoroscopy most effective in?

  • Tracheal collapse
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Assessment of skeletal system
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Minimally invasive surgeries

Our Fluoroscopy Machine

At HSR, we have an OEC Fluorostar 7900 Digital Mobile 4 configurations compact C-arm with 1Kx1K image quality

Our Diagnostic Imaging Team

Collins Ugwuoke - Radiographer

Collins Ugwuoke

Collins Ugwuoke Radiographer
Read Bio
Poyette Chambers - Radiographer

Poyette Chambers

Poyette Chambers BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography and Imaging Science Radiographer
Read Bio
Dr Alex Lataretu - Ultrasonographer

Dr Alex Lataretu

Dr Alex Lataretu MRCVS Ultrasonographer
Read Bio
Return to Services