After a crazy first couple of rotations, I found myself relaxing in the black and white (and shades of gray) of radiology. I really enjoy the subject of radiology and was ready to learn how to actually make the images that I’ve studied for the past year and a half of vet school. Plus, handling real animals and seeing real problems and making real radiographic diagnoses is way more fun that staring at images on a computer screen in a classroom all day! I am a visual and auditory learner, and seeing an injury or abnormality in a living animal and then translating that to what I saw on the radiograph really helped to solidify what kinds of things I should be looking for when I take radiographs for my own patients in the very near future.
We learn radiology by body systems. We start with normal images of the thorax (heart, lungs, esophagus, or soft tissue structures in the chest cavity), then the abdomen—GI system first and then urinary and reproductive systems next. The next level of study is looking at as many abnormal scenarios as possible in that same order. And even further than that, we start looking at different imaging modalities (X-ray first, then ultrasound, then very basic anatomy of CT and MRI images). Radiographs are such an integral part of veterinary medicine. Learning how to take and read these images allows us to “talk” to our patients in a more intimate way than we are able to otherwise. We can’t ask our animals what is hurting or harming them. That is why radiology is one of my favorite subjects because it is one of the few avenues of communication that allows us to find out what is ailing our animals so we can fix it.