The definition of a radiograph is a composite shadow of structures and objects in the path of an x-ray beam recorded on film (emulsion or digital). Because a radiograph is, in essence, a "shadowgraph", produced following geometric rules, a veterinarian uses this knowledge to interpret these "shadows" based on the animals anatomy to create a three-dimensional mental image from a series of two-dimensional images. Unfortunately, a radiograph is more complex than just a simple shadowgraph because we see more than just the borders of each organ. The x-ray beam is absorbed or scattered based on certain subject densities. The higher the density, the less the x-ray beam penetrates, and the "whiter" the film becomes. These densities are:

1. Mineral (including metal objects)              Whitest = Most dense


2. Bone                                                                                ||


3. Fluid (soft tissue)                                                          ||


4. Fat                                                                                   V


5. Gas (air)                                                         Blackest = Least dense


Many times two organs of similar density are so close to each other that they form a "silhouette-sign" that appears as only a single structure thereby complicating radiographic interpretation. Other radiographic modalities can be utilized to isolate and thereby identify each individual structure: A barium series, Computer Aided Tomography (CAT) Scan, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). An x-ray machine can produce survey radiographic films and the films of a barium series, whereas specialized equipment is required to produce a CAT scan or MRI film.

The BIRD Clinic has an on-site x-ray machine / digital (see below) radiographic combination to produce high quality/high contrast images for all forms of radiography. The BIRD Clinic works as a team with Advanced Veterinary Medical Imaging if a CAT scan or MRI is indicated. As the world of digital technology expands it touches all areas of medicine and general radiology is no exception. Many human hospitals now take "Digital Radiographs". Full digital radiographic systems have been in some veterinary practices but until June 2005 not in avian medicine..... 

June, 2005 - Dr. Nemetz working together with Eklin systems over a six month period developed the first fully digital radiographic (DR) system with the necessary high definition parameters to make digital radiology a reality for avian medicine. The digital cassette used is the same high definition unit used in human mammography centers. The computer interface was custom designed and built for use in The BIRD Clinic. Installation alone took 14 hours!  After the installation, new techniques were developed with the help of a Board Certified Veterinary Radiologist and Dr. Nemetz's knowledge of avian anatomy and disease.

The new system has brought a whole new perspective to the world of avian radiology. Now post "film" development is possible including rotation, magnification, contrast and tissue setting adjustments, along with precise measurements of tumors, fractures, an enlarged liver or heart, and ingested foreign material. In the first week after installation the system was helpful in finding a 1mm ingested foreign body (containing Zinc) in a patient as well as an even smaller abnormal calcium deposit in the abdomen of a cockatiel once it was magnified to the size of an amazon! All of this while maintaining detail and clarity. The animal's size (finches, canaries, budgies, etc) that has plaqued avian veterinarian's diagnostic ability is now minimized with this high definition's system ability to magnify but maintain definition and detail.

Along with better diagnostic capacity it is safer for the patient because anesthesia time is reduced by 75% and the "development" of the digital film takes less than 3 seconds compared to over 5 minutes using conventional film techniques. This speed difference reduces the number of retakes necessary to obtain proper diagnostic films thereby providing a superior as well as safer procedure for all of our avian patients.

The BIRD Clinic and Dr. Nemetz are very excited to be part of this breakthrough in avian medicine and now have a digital database of patients that can also be used for teaching and transmission through the internet to colleagues for consultation.

Baseline digital radiographs of one's pet bird can now be easily stored and used for comparison to possible abnormal conditions some time in the future without the loss of detail compared to normal film radiographs that degrade with time. Eklin also provides multiple levels of on-site and off-site backup to maintain security for each patient. Each image is encrypted with security features the same that is used in human medicine. 

With the safety in procedure, detail, and storage, baseline digital radiographs are now a safe reality. Contact us if you have any questions about this great advancement.....

(updated 03/14/17)

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