Dr. Debra Primovic
Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures


A thoracic (chest) radiograph (X-ray) is a procedure that allows your veterinarian to visualize tissues, organs and bones that lie beneath the skin of the chest cavity. Thoracic radiographs are recommended for any pet with difficultly breathing or with suspicion of heart disease or lung disease. They are also indicated in geriatric patients, and in patients that may have cancer, to evaluate for metastasis (spread). X-rays of the chest should be taken of every animal that has been hit by a car or suffered other types of major trauma because they can reveal many types of injuries to the chest wall, lungs and heart, or other injuries like diaphragmatic hernia. X-rays are also often repeated to monitor progress after treatment or after removing fluid for better visualization of structures. There is no real contraindication to performing this test. Even normal results help determine health or exclude certain diseases.


Chest X-rays provide an image of the bones and outlines of the heart and lungs. This test can be extremely useful for detecting changes in the shape, size or position of organs. Unfortunately, important structures can sometimes blend together on X-rays, so this test does have limitations. For example, a tumor may blend into the background of normal organs because they have the same “opacity,” or shade of gray, as the normal tissues. Abnormal fluid accumulations can obscure the ability to see other structures. Thus, chest X-rays are an excellent “screening test,” but they do not detect all internal problems. In some cases, additional procedures such as an echocardiogram (ultrasound), bronchoscopy, trans-tracheal wash or thoracocentesis may be needed to diagnose a problem.

Chest X-rays in normal pets should demonstrate healthy anatomy. This includes normal heart, lungs, blood vessels and bones. Evidence of heart enlargement, fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), fluid in the pleural cavity (pleural effusion), air in the chest cavity (pneumothorax), tumor and/or fractures are all abnormalities.

How Is a Chest X-ray Done?

Specialized, expensive equipment is required to expose and develop the X-ray film. The pet’s chest is measured with a special ruler and the exposure time of the X-ray machine is set. The pet is then placed gently on his side to obtain the “lateral” view. Invisible X-rays then pass from the tube of the radiograph machine, through the animal and onto the X-ray film underneath the pet. Depending on the density of the tissues and organs and the ability of the X-rays to pass through these tissues, different shades of gray will show up on the developed X-ray. This process is then repeated with the animal on his back to obtain the “ventrodorsal” view. Taking two views of the chest will give your veterinarian a more complete study and allow a more thorough interpretation of the chest.

The film is then developed. Radiographs usually take about 5 to 20 minutes to obtain, plus the development time needed for the film (5 to 30 minutes). In some situations, your veterinarian may request the assistance of a radiologist or specialist in evaluating and interpreting the radiographs.


No pain is involved. The procedure is noninvasive.


Neither sedation nor anesthesia is needed in most patients; however, some pets resent positioning for an X-ray and may need tranquilization or ultrashort anesthesia. In a few states there is a legal requirement for sedation so that personnel are not exposed to any X-rays while holding an animal patient. However, in most cases, the unsedated pet is attended by assistants who wear appropriate lead-shields to minimize their exposure to X-rays.

Dear Valued Clients

During these challenging times, there have been some unforeseen changes at The Big Easy Animal Hospital. I cannot express enough my sincere apology for any inconvenience you have experienced at The Big Easy during these times. As we strive to make the practice safe to protect everyone including you, your family, and our Big Easy team and their families, I’ve decided to make certain changes while we are under this pandemic. These changes will be temporary.


Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday:
Walk Ins: Check-in starts at 9:45am.There are a limited amount of patients we can accept. Our receptionists will be happy to assist you with options to help guide you and your pet(s).)


Saturday Hours

Saturdays will be TECHNICIAN APPOINTMENTS only. These will include boosters, bloodwork, nail trims, certain diagnostics, etc. There will not be a veterinarian on site. While I understand these changes can be inconvenient, I have listed local veterinary clinics that we have contacted and are open to see walk-ins throughout the week and Saturdays as well. For life threatening emergencies that occur outside business hours, please contact the following 24-hour animal hospitals below.

Please, be safe and healthy.

Thank you all for your understanding. -Aileen Ruiz, DVM


24 Hour Emergency Care:


Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center

807 Camp Horne Road
Pittsburgh, PA



4224 Northern Pike
Monroeville, PA

VCA Castle Shannon Animal Hospital

3610 Library Road
Pittsburgh, PA

Veterinarians Accepting Walk in Care:

Penn Animal Hospital

2205 Penn Avenue

North Boros Veterinary Hospital

2255 Babcock Blvd



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