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pet emergency
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pet emergency

Introducing our
diagnostic imaging services


When pets are sick or injured, they can’t tell us where it hurts or how long they have been in pain. After examining your dog or cat, a family veterinarian may see symptoms of certain conditions and need additional information from advanced diagnostic imaging to better understand your pet’s condition, prognosis, and treatment options.

Our team of board-certified veterinary radiologists support referring family veterinarians with a variety of technology, testing, and interpretation of results using radiology (x-rays) and radiographic contrast studies, ultrasound, and computed tomography (CT) at our state-of-the-art Castle Rock location.

What is a board-certified radiologist?

Small animal veterinarians who pursue additional specialist training after vet school can become radiologists. Training consists of a minimum of a 1-year internship followed by 3-4 years of residency that meet specific guidelines set by the American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVR). Like other veterinary specialists, veterinary radiologists must also pass board examinations to receive accreditation.

Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies is proud to feature board-certified radiologists for our ultrasound and imaging capabilities. The team provides outpatient appointments Tuesday through Friday for stable pets with appointments made by referring veterinarians. They also provide our in-house diagnostic imaging services 7 days a week and offer telemedicine consultations for referring veterinarians. We’re here to provide the highest level of care for your pets.

Radiology and Radiographic Contrast Studies

Radiology (x-ray) provides images of bones and certain organs using the same technology for both humans and animals. Radiology helps veterinary professionals assess skeletal injuries and chronic conditions and can further provide information on tissues, internal organs, and the presence of foreign objects like swallowed items.

With the addition of a dye or medication used to light up a certain area, contrast studies provide images and information – not of bones, but of the size, shape, and position of internal organs, and other soft tissue and blood vessels insides of our pets’ bodies.

Our radiologists may use contrast radiography to diagnose gastrointestinal and urogenital disorders or to evaluate the spine and soft tissues, or for an examination of blood or lymph vessels, joints, or sinus abnormalities.


Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies offers in-house ultrasound for patients 7 days a week. We also offer outpatient ultrasound services Tuesday through Friday for stable patients with a referral from a family veterinarian. (Please note this schedule change starting the week of August 6, 2023.) We are proud to share these services to better serve the referring veterinary community and their patients by providing:

  • Regular ultrasound exam hours for your outpatient scheduling convenience
  • Quick turnaround of ultrasound test results
  • Direct communication between your family veterinarian and our radiologist

About Ultrasound

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to look inside your pet’s body at the soft tissues. Sending sound waves into your pet’s body and listening for echoes, the ultrasound machine interprets the echoes as pictures of the different tissue and organs being viewed.

Ultrasound will not harm your pet. It provides valuable diagnostic information for our radiologists to examine organs for shape, location, size, texture, and blood supply. Paired with other imaging, bloodwork, and specialist input, ultrasound is a powerful diagnostic tool.

Your family veterinarian may recommend ultrasound for your pet, for the following:

  • Changes in urinary habits
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Abnormal blood work
  • Chronic infection
  • Weight loss
  • Fluid in the chest or abdomen
  • Pre-surgical work-up
  • Re-check of a previous problem
  • Endocrine disease monitoring
  • Lameness
  • Minimally invasive tissue sampling
  • Therapeutic injection or cystablation
  • Cancer staging

To Schedule Outpatient Ultrasound Services:

Referring veterinarians may call Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies directly a 303.660.1027.

Computed Tomography (CT):

A CT scan uses a computer to combine a series of cross-sectional x-rays taken at multiple angles. The resulting three dimensional image has more detail than a traditional x-ray and can show highly-detailed views of:

  • Internal organs
  • Bones
  • Soft tissue
  • Blood vessels

Why CT?

Veterinary radiologists use CT because it provides:

  • Detailed views of all types of tissue beyond conventional x-rays
    enabling more accurate diagnosis of trauma, musculoskeletal problems,
    abnormalities of blood vessels, and cancer
  • Diagnostics for all types of tissue in the chest and abdomen
  • Diagnostics for the treatment of spinal
    and skeletal structural injuries and abnormalities, clearly showing even the
    smallest bones and surrounding tissue, muscle, and blood vessels
  • Confirmation of the presence of tumors and measurement of size, exact location, and extent of any involvement with adjacent tissue

How to prepare your pet for Diagnostic imaging including x-ray, ultrasound, and CT scan

Preparing your pet for any veterinary exam is important, and we will inform you of any specifics prior to a planned visit. If your pet is ill or this is a veterinary medical emergency and we feel that an examination might present a risk to your pet’s well-being, we will call your veterinarian before proceeding. Upon presentation, if we feel that your pet is unstable and requires immediate medical care, we will, with your permission, provide this care and then contact your veterinarian with an update on your pet’s condition.

On the day of a diagnostic imaging exam:

For all diagnostic imaging services, your family veterinarian and the staff at Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies will provide you with as much information as possible for the health and comfort of your pet. We know you might like to be present with your pet throughout their exam, but we ask for your patience as we may need to treat your pet in areas of our state-of-the-art facility that don’t allow for your presence during diagnostic imaging procedures. We’ll keep you informed and give your pet the care they need.

Here’s some of what to expect on the day of their diagnostic imaging exam.

  • For radiology (x-rays):
    • If your veterinarian has recommended anesthesia, please follow your veterinarian’s guidelines.
    • Please inform your veterinary care team about any previous surgeries your pet may have had.
    • If your pet is in pain, it may be necessary to sedate or anesthetize your pet prior to taking x-rays to keep your pet comfortable as we take the views we need. Our team will inform you if this is needed.
  • For radiographic contrast studies
    • Our doctors must sometimes inject or feed a special contrast agent to your pet to specifically highlight an area of the body in order to see any abnormalities. This should not require any preparation.
  • For ultrasound
    • Please do not feed your pet on the day of the exam since food and air in the stomach and intestines can sometimes interfere with ultrasound examinations. Water in small amounts is ok.
    • One of our veterinary technicians will take your pet to the ultrasound room. There are some areas of our facility where we can’t allow pet owners to visit during procedures. If we need to separate you from your pet, we will continue to inform you throughout  your pet’s stay.
    • Because sound waves don’t like to travel through hair and the ultrasound probe (a hand-held device that resembles a microphone) needs as much contact with your pet’s skin as possible, we will shave the part of your pet that needs to be scanned.
    • Your pet will be gently restrained during the exam by one of our veterinary technicians who will also make sure your pet receives plenty of reassuring rubs.
    • Pets may rest on their back or side on a padded surface for the ultrasound exam. Our radiologist will apply a warm, water-based gel and a small amount of pressure to the area being scanned.
    • Scheduled outpatient ultrasound exams are performed Monday through Thursday for stable patients referred by family veterinarians. We offer inpatient ultrasound services every day.
    • Typically, exams take 20-30 minutes to complete in order to get the best images, but some exams may take longer. If the exam is going to take longer than anticipated, we will let you know and make sure your pet has a chance to stretch and move around.
  • For CT scan
    • Veterinary CT scans generally require anesthesia so that the pet remains still for the 30-60 minute procedure. Please follow any instructions provided by your veterinarian for fasting.

Upon completion of the diagnostic imaging exam:

  • Our radiologist will contact the referring veterinarian to review the findings and discuss recommendations.
  • Telemedicine options are available for your referring vet to consult with our radiologists.
  • A final report will be emailed to the referring veterinarian or your family veterinarian, typically by the next business day. Referring veterinarians may ask us about additional options. We want to provide the highest level of service and meet your needs.

Family veterinarians have the best understanding of your pet’s history and overall medical condition. As a result, they are the best resource to answer questions you might have about prognosis and specific diagnostic or therapeutic recommendations. Our specialists are here to support them and your family, as we all contribute to the care and well-being of your pets.


Referring veterinarians may call Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies directly at 303.660.1027.