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Research comment
An insight into digital radiography use in small animal practice in the UK
  1. Alison King, BVMS, MVM, PhD, DVR, DipECVDI, MRCVS
  1. School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G61 1QH
  1. E-mail: alison.king{at}

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It is now approximately 20 years since the first UK veterinary digital x-ray machine was installed.1 Instead of x-ray film, digital radiography uses a digital image capture device. The advantages of using digital radiography include: immediate image preview and availability, the elimination of costly film processing steps, and the ability to use special image processing techniques to enhance the overall quality of the image.

The results of a survey carried out by Booth and others,2 summarised on p 225 of this week’s issue of Vet Record, indicated that by 2013, 78 per cent of respondents from small animal practices were using digital radiography (either direct digital radiography [DDR] or computed radiography [CR]), and it is likely that since 2013 this will have increased further. A previous study also showed that equine practitioners were even quicker to embrace this technology, with up to 90 per cent of equine practices having already changed to digital radiography by 2013.1

The advantages of digital radiography over film-screen systems are such that it is inevitable they will eventually completely replace film-screen systems, in a similar way to photography.1 It is therefore interesting to discover that according to Booth and others,2 apart from cost, the barriers to practices upgrading to digital radiography relate to a lack of understanding about the technology.

Radiography guidelines

  • Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 were the regulations set out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), under which all veterinary radiography is controlled.

  • Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 replaced IRR99 on 1 January 2018. All veterinary practices using ionising radiation are now required to re-register with HSE every year.

  • Draft Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2018 (IRMER 18) come in to force on 6 February 2018. These regulations cover the duties of …

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