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Companion Animal Practice
Radiological assessment of lung disease in small animals
  1. Ruth Dennis

    Ruth Dennis graduated from Cambridge in 1981. After spending three years in general practice, she returned to Cambridge to specialise in radiology, and in 1992 moved to the Animal Health Trust. She holds the RCVS diploma in veterinary radiology, and is a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging and an active member of the European Association of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging. Her particular interests are radiology and MRI in small animals.

2. Alveolar, interstitial and mixed lung patterns


A NUMBER of technical factors and incidental anatomical and physiological variations can mimic or mask pathology of the lung, while diseases of different aetiologies may present with a similar radiographic appearance, all of which can often make diagnosis of lung disease challenging. The key to interpretation is to rely on the general principles of radiology and pattern recognition to help identify and classify genuine changes. This, in turn, allows a list of likely differential diagnoses to be compiled, which is important when planning further diagnostic tests or treatment. An article in last month's issue (In Practice, April 2008, volume 30, pp 182-189) described how to acquire high-quality thoracic radiographs and discussed the principles of interpretation, the normal appearance of the lung and the features of abnormal bronchial and vascular patterns. This article describes the features of alveolar, interstitial and mixed lung patterns, nodules, masses and pulmonary mineralisation, and outlines the causes of decreased pulmonary opacity.

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