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We are living in the digital age and veterinarians are incorporating new technology to improve patient care in the form of computerized medical data systems just as our doctors and dentists are doing. Dogwood Pet Hospital implemented a digital radiographic system in January 2009 and we appreciate its advantages every single time we take an x-ray. If you have replaced your old film camera with a digital camera you can appreciate the analogous benefits of digital radiography over the standard film systems which include: 1) efficiency, 2) portability, 3) accessibility and 4) eco-friendliness of the generated information.
The efficiency of digital systems means radiographs can be generated in a fraction of the time of old film systems, since film needs to be processed through a developer, fixed and dried before being read. The efficiency translates into less restraint of your pet for positioning, less anesthetic time if sedation is required and less waiting time for you in an exam room.
The radiographic images that are generated digitally have the advantage of portability, just like MP3 files for music and JPEG images for our photos. They can be burned to CD or emailed and the images can be opened and examined on any computer system. Thus radiographs can be copied and given to you, sent to another veterinary hospital, emergency clinic, critical care referral center or radiologist for review.
The accessibility of digital images is also a huge advantage. Digital images are stored on computers with elaborate backup systems to ensure their preservation. No longer are x-ray films misfiled, lost or signed out. The images are just the click of a button away. Like digital photos enhanced with photo editing software, the digital radiographs can be easily magnified and contrast balanced to provide optimal visualization of radiographic abnormalities.
Digitalization is also eco-friendly. Film based systems require the use of chemicals that are flushed into our wastewater systems and pose potential health hazards unless treated. The fumes generated by automatic developer systems in a clinic can be injurious to lungs and require special venting requirements. The film also requires specialized disposal as it contains heavy metals that need to be kept out of our landfills and groundwater systems.
While digital radiographs offer many advantages, certainly its most important advantage is that it has enhanced our ability to diagnose and treat your pet's health problems.