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Frequently Asked Questions 


Please find general information regarding Cone Beam Computed Tomography - if you cannot find the answers you are looking for here, please contact us via phone or email and we'll be happy to help you.

What is a Cone Beam CT?

Cone Beam Computed Tomography – or a “CBCT” is a form of diagnostic imaging that scans bone and/or soft tissue. Once the image is fully rendered, the anatomy scanned can be explored in cross-sections for any abnormalities. With the added advantage of the equipment’s smaller size compared to a conventional CT, it allows the cone beam to be a portable, table-side machine, which has greatly benefited our practice’s diagnostic imaging standards. Due to the smaller size, the cone beam can only scan skulls or limbs (i.e. joints, paws, tails).

The CBCT uses radiation that is emitted from the C-shaped gantry. With your pet under sedation or general anesthesia, the gantry rotates a full 360° around the patient. As it spins, the x-rays scan every millimeter of a 14cm x 24cm area, making sure nothing of importance is missed. It takes less than one minute for the reconstruction of the scan to be completed. The amount of radiation needed for a CBCT is considerably less than a conventional CT.

Cone Beam CT vs. Radiography:

The main difference between general radiographs and the CBCT is that conventional x-rays only show a 2D image. With a 2D image, anatomical structures can overlap with one another, obscuring important pathology. With 3D imaging, this is completely avoided. Anatomy can also be viewed in cross-sectional views, making sure nothing significant is missed, especially when it comes to the head. CBCT can observe pathology with much greater accuracy and in less time than conventional x-rays. Direct measurements can also be utilized on CBCT images, so a surgeon knows precisely where lesions are down to 0.4 millimeters!

Kitty the VetCAT photo shoot (10).JPG

Other Considerations for CBCT:

Administration of intravenous contrast media is useful if soft tissues require assessment, or to highlight important anatomical structures that a surgeon might want to avoid, such as major blood vessels. If there is a concern about chronic or acute inflammation, swellings, or tumors, then intravenous contrast media should be used. Contrast media is injected while the patient is under sedation or general anesthesia.

My pet is coming to you for a scan. What does this mean?

If you were referred to Alberta Veterinary Dentistry for Treatment of an Oral, Facial, or Dental Problem in your pet, we will be utilizing a CBCT scan to create their treatment plan. Our doctors will discuss the timing and use of this imaging modality with you at the time of your consultation.

If you were referred to Alberta Veterinary Dentistry for an Outpatient CBCT, your pet was sent to us to facilitate a scan to provide your primary veterinarian addition imaging to help manage treatment and monitor your pet.  The sedation (or general anesthesia) required for the scan will be performed under the supervision of our Veterinary Anesthetist, Dr. Jessica Pang.  The coordination of the appointment will be facilitated through one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians. 

Once your scan has been completed, it is sent to a Veterinary Radiologist for interpretation.  The results are then sent to your referring veterinarian, who will contact you with the recommended next steps.  The veterinarians and staff at Alberta Veterinary Dentistry do not receive the results from the radiologist, so will not be contacting you or be able to provide any information regarding the scan.


What is the process I am to expect if my pet is referred for an Outpatient CBCT?

  1. Alberta Veterinary Dentistry (AVD) will receive the referral request from your primary veterinarian.

  2. You will be contacted via telephone to confirm the requested diagnostics and schedule the appointment. An estimate for the requested diagnostics will be provided.

    1. We will require 10-15 minutes of your time on the phone to complete this step.

  3. When your pet arrives at AVD, they will be admitted by one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVT) who will be coordinating the entire visit.

    1. We will need 20-30 minutes of your time in person to complete this step.

    2. Before your pet is admitted, a veterinarian will perform a physical examination and medical record review to determine the safest sedatives or anesthetics to be administered. If the physical examination is not consistent with the health status reported by the primary veterinarian, the CBCT scan may be cancelled and/or rescheduled for another date.

  4. After the CBCT scan is completed and your pet has recovered from sedation, they will be discharged back to you and the care of your primary veterinarian.

    1. Again, we will need 10-15 minutes of your time for the discharge.

  5. The CBCT scan will be sent to a Veterinary Radiologist that same day. The interpretation report can be expected in less than 7 business days.

  6. Your primary veterinarian will contact you with results and to discuss their recommendations.

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