The joys of digital radiography


Sure, it'll be a benefit to your practice's medical care, but this technology can do wonders for your relationship with veterinary clients, too.

For the holidays, the gift to our clinic was a shiny, new digital radiography unit. The technicians love how much time it saves and how they don't have to be as precise with technique. (Like multiplication tables and cursive writing, it appears technique will quickly become a thing of the past, too.) And as veterinarians, we love the views and the ability to zoom in, adjust the contrast, and do measurements, like vertebral heart scores and such.

But I think what's most beneficial about digital radiography is that we can share the X-rays with pet owners—and use them as a teaching tool. With our old unit, I'd have the radiographs on a viewer box down the hallway. On a discharge, I'd offer to show the client the images, and more than half would decline because they didn't know what they were looking at, they were in a hurry, or they simply didn't want to follow me down some dark, cavernous hallway.

With digital radiographs, I can pull up the views in any exam room. The owners—even if they wanted to—can't escape. But most don't want to escape—they're interested in what I have to tell them. Even if the X-ray is normal, I still think it's beneficial to let them see what their hard-earned $149 paid for. And most are interested to see what their pet's kidneys look like or where the spleen is located. I'll show them why we took the radiograph in the first place and what I was looking for. Digital radiography enhances our ability to embrace one of the cardinal reasons we became doctors: to teach.

What's also great about digital radiography is the ability to share—we can put the image in the report going home, send it on a disc, email it to a client, or have them look it up on the Internet. The ability to easily show the image in so many different formats adds value to the client.

When a client brings a pet to us, they either want to make sure the pet is well or they want to know what the problem is. But either way, the questions soon follow: How much are the radiographs? Should I have them taken now? And is it really of value? By having diagnostic tools such as digital radiography at hand, we can easily answer that last question by showing them the value.

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Aaron Smiley, DVM
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