Department Doctors:

Our Services > Imaging

Services Provided:

Digital X-ray (DR)

DR replaces conventional film-based x-rays, providing a faster, more accurate way to acquire diagnostic images. Unlike some other digital systems, we use a Canon medical grade digital plate and acquisition software that assures the best in image quality. DR images are available within seconds to be viewed on a high-resolution monitor with no need for film developing. Examination rooms are equipped with flat screen LCD viewing stations for reviewing x-rays with clients.

X-ray imaging is used to visualize internal structures of our patients, and is used for a wide range of applications including imaging of the thorax, abdomen, skeletal structures, limbs, as well as for a variety of special imaging procedures.

Digital x-ray has the following advantages over film based x-ray:

  • Superior image quality.
  • Faster study times (Approximately 4 seconds to acquire each image).
  • More efficient – more x-ray studies can be performed in less time.
  • Less anxiety for the patient from reduction in study time.
  • Reduces patient and staff exposure by less exposure time to radiation.
  • Allows for superior image manipulation
  • Instantaneous viewing on all computers in the hospital.
  • All images can be viewed and assessed by a Board Certified Veterinary Radiologist via telemedicine.
    • Radiology reports are available within hours (during normal business hours)
    • STAT Radiology consults available when indicated

CT Scan

CT scan is a non invasive imaging modality that performs 360 degree, cross sectional imaging of our patients. CT scan uses x-ray technology to acquire these images, but does so with vastly increased detail and sensitivity, allowing us to visualize structures as small as 1-2mm in size.

How is CT performed?

Once it has been determined that a patient needs a CT scan, and has been thoroughly evaluated by one of our clinicians, the patient is sedated or anesthetized, and placed on the CT imaging table. The CT technician appropriately positions the patient and programs the CT computer for the desired type of study. The patient table then advances through the CT gantry (which is a large, donut shaped apparatus) while an x-ray tube and sensors rotate at high speed around the patient. Usually, the scan is performed twice, the second scan with the administration of an intravenous contrast agent that highlights blood vessels and other structures. These images are reconstructed on a computer console attached to the CT machine, then are reviewed by our specialists and often sent over the internet for review by a Board Certified Radiologist.

Our helical, 4 slice CT scanner is able to perform imaging studies much faster than older, conventional CT scanners that are often found in veterinary medicine. Using newer equipment and software, we are able to perform most studies in less than 1 minute (actual scanning time). This decrease in time also comes with an increase in quality and sensitivity. These advantages translate into reduced anesthetic times for our patients, and even the ability to perform some CT studies under a light plane of sedation. Our CT is able to perform multiple image algorithm processing simultaneously, reducing the need for additional scans and increasing diagnostic quality and ability. 3D reconstructions of images can also be performed when indicated. Our CT Scans are performed by trained technicians with the most current techniques and procedures.

CT is the preferred imaging modality for:

Brain - Trauma with suspected fracture, acute intracranial injury in an unstable patient

Spine - Vertebral fractures

Nasal Cavity & Sinuses – Chronic nasal discharge and/or sneezing, nasal distortion/deformation, nasal neoplasia

Orbit/Ocular – Orbital trauma with suspected fracture

Head/Neck – Dental related neoplasia, head/neck trauma with suspected fracture

Thorax - Metastatic screening, primary lung neoplasia, pneumothorax, lung lobe consolidation, chronic pneumonia, pleural effusion, mediastinal disease

Abdomen – Upper urinary tract evaluation, ectopic ureter, renal/ureteral calculi, clarification and surgical planning of large organ masses, including the liver, spleen, kidney, GI tract, investigation of suspected portosystemic shunts

Musculoskeletal – Elbow dysplasia, suspected incomplete ossification of the humeral condyles, complex fractures

Neoplasia - Lung metastasis screening

Cardiovascular – Pulmonary embolism

Other – General trauma


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an advanced, non invasive, non-radiating, imaging modality that has become commonplace in human medicine, and has been rapidly expanding into the veterinary field.

MRI uses a strong magnetic field that aligns protons of the body tissues within the field. A radio frequency signal (RF) is then applied to the field, which disrupts the alignment of these protons. After which they return to their original state. The RF signals are collected by a receiver (called a coil), which are then transmitted back to a computer which creates visual images from this information. These images are easily constructed in axial, dorsal, sagittal, and oblique planes for review by the clinician or radiologist. As in CT, MRI is often performed using an intravenous contrast agent that allows us to better visualize certain structures and abnormalities. MRI yields the highest level of soft tissue detail when compared to other imaging modalities (CT, digital xray). This sensitivity allows for highlighting desired structures or tissues by adjusting settings on the MRI machine.

An MRI study typically takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete, and requires general anesthesia as the patient must be perfectly still for the duration of the study. MRI’s are performed by personnel who have received advanced education and training in magnetic resonance imaging.

MRI is the advanced imaging modality of choice for:

Brain – Brain disorders, seizures, cranial nerve signs, vestibular disease, ataxia, head tilt, behavioral changes, central blindness, pituitary disease, metastatic disease, congenital abnormalities, head trauma

Spine – Acute or progressive tetraparesis or hindlimb paresis, CP deficits, spinal pain, nerve root signature, spinal trauma, congenital abnormalities, discospondylitis

Peripheral Nervous System – Suspected peripheral nerve neoplasia, progressive single limb atrophy or pain

Nasal Cavity & Sinuses – Chronic nasal discharge and/or sneezing, nasal distortion/deformation, nasal neoplasia

Orbit/Ocular – Exophthalmous, pain opening mouth, retrobulbar swelling or neoplasia, optic nerve disease

Head/Neck – Soft tissue masses or swelling, including lymph nodes, salivary glands, larynx, thyroid, maxilla, mandible, chronic ear disease, head tilt

Abdomen - Small organ masses including the pancreas, lymph nodes and adrenal glands, surgical planning for clarification or margins and involvement of neoplasia of large organs, including the liver, spleen, kidney, and GI tract

Musculoskeletal - Pain or lameness localized to a joint in the limb (particularly ligaments, tendons, menisci, cartilage, bone, or joint swelling)

Neoplasia - Soft tissue masses, especially for surgical planning, metastatic screening, lymph node and bone marrow evaluation

Cardiovascular – Pericardial effusions, pericardial masses, suspected large vessel thrombus

Other – Suspected foreign bodies, chronic draining tracts.

***It is important to note that there are many indications where CT and MRI overlap in their use, and the decision of one modality over another is based on availability, cost, anticipated findings and patient stability. MRI is a longer procedure than CT, and may be preferred in more critical patients.


Ultrasound is an imaging modality that does not require radiation, and is painless and non invasive. Ultrasound is used as a diagnostic tool to obtain more detailed information about internal body structures. Ultrasound machines function by using sound waves administered by a small handheld device called a probe, which are reflected back to the probe, and a computer formats these into visual pictures on a monitor for the clinician to review.

Ultrasound is a modality that requires significant training and experience by the clinician to allow for accurate diagnosis and interpretation of the study. Ultrasound is commonly used visualize internal abdominal organs in high detail, as well as the heart (during a special type of ultrasound called echocardiography). Often, needle or core biopsy samples can be obtained during ultrasound (which may require sedation/anesthesia), to allow us to confirm diagnosis or obtain more information on your pet.

Applications for ultrasound include:

  • Evaluation of the abdominal organs, including the liver, spleen, pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, lymphatic system, kidneys, urinary tract, and endocrine organs
  • Pregnancy evaluation
  • Imaging of thoracic and abdominal masses
  • Imagining of fluid accumulation in the abdomen or thorax
  • Imaging of the neck, including thyroid and parathyroid glands
  • Imaging of blood vessels and flow, both in and around the heart, as well as throughout the body
  • Imaging of the eye (for masses and retinal detachment)


Echocardiography is a type of ultrasound that uses special probes and software, as well as requiring advanced training to perform real time imaging of the heart and surrounding structures. At CVRC, our echocardiograms are performed by our Board Certified Cardiologist, who has undergone extensive education and training to perform echocardiography to aid in diagnosis and treatment of all cardiac related diseases.

Echocardiography is used to diagnose the following conditions:

  • Pericardial effusions
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Mitral regurgitation
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Pulmonary stenosis
  • Ventricular septal defects
  • AV valve dysplasia
  • Patent ductus arteriousus
  • Developmental defects
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Heartworm disease
  • Heart based masses
  • Advanced feline restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Right to left shunts
  • Atrial septal defects
  • AV valve stenoses
  • Coronary artery defects
  • Occult dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Cor triatriatum
  • Persistent left cranial vena cava
  • Canine hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Feline diastolic dysfunction

Imaging Overview

High quality digital imaging equipment is an integral component for diagnosis and treatment of our patients. CVRC has invested in comprehensive, complimentary, and high quality imaging modalities to support our clinicians’ ability to visualize the internal body structures of our patients. Diagnostic imaging often requires the use of several of these different technologies to obtain the information needed to diagnose and treat our patients. These imaging modalities include university grade digital radiography, ultrasound, echocardiography, CT Scan, C-arm (fluoroscopy), MRI, and flexible and rigid endoscopy.

Combining these modalities with a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) allows us to readily share our patients’ images with our staff clinicians, the referring veterinarian, and specialists across the country (through telemedicine), for prompt review, interpretation, and collaboration, ensuring the highest level of care for our patients.

Open for emergencies 24/7/365

3484 Shelby Ray Court • Charleston, SC • 29414 • Phone: 843.614.VETS(8387)