X-ray positioning

Hi Readers,

After just completing a week of work experience at an equine clinic I learned a lot about different scans and how they are taken. The vets discussed the different views with the vet nurses so this week I’ll be looking into the names of those views so as to understand the terms being communicated between vet and vet nurse.

This diagram helped me visualise the different positions the vets were referring to. I found a table which describes the meaning of each view.

Caudal Refers to parts of the head, neck, or trunk facing toward the hind part of the body from any set point. Also refers to those aspects of the limbs above the carpal and tarsal joints facing in the direction of the hind part of the body
Cranial Refers to parts of the neck, trunk, and tail facing the direction of the head from any set point. Also refers to superior or anterior aspect of a body part or limb above the carpal and tarsal joints
Distal Refers to any part away from the center of the body
Dorsal Refers to the back or posterior part of the body; opposite of ventral
Lateral X-ray beam enters either the right or left side of the body and exits on the opposite side
Mediolateral X-ray beam enters the limb medially and exits laterally
Palmar Refers to the posterior or inferior aspect of the forelimb from the carpus, distally
Plantar Refers to the posterior or inferior aspect of the hind limb from the tarsus, distally
Proximal Refers to the end of a limb or other part closest to the point of attachment
Recumbent Refers to the animal lying down
Rostral Toward the head or nares
Superior and inferior Refers to the upper and lower dental arcades, respectively
Ventral Refers to the abdominal or sternal surface of the body
Caudocranial The beam enters the caudal aspect of the limb and exits the cranial   aspect. Difficult or impossible to differentiate from the craniocaudal view.
Craniocaudal The beam enters the cranial (front) side of the limb above the carpus and exits the caudal (back) of the limb
Ventrodorsal The beam enters the ventral surface and exits the dorsal surface.
Palmar dorsal (plantar dorsal): Taken from the back to the front of the limb distal to the proximal end of the carpus.

Horizontal Beam Views – Horizontal beam views are views taken with the patient in lateral, dorsal, or ventral recumbent positions or with the patient standing in lateral, dorsal, or ventral standing positions.


In this example, the xray is being taken in the lateral position – so enters on left and exits on the right. It is recumbent as the animal is lying down and VD stands for Ventrodorsal which means the beam enters in the ventral surface (abdomen/sternal surface) and exists by the dorsal surface (back of the body).

In this example, the dog is placed in the dorsal recumbent position with it’s forelegs extended cranially. Therefore meaning: dorsal recumbent – lying on it’s back, forelegs extending cranially – it’s forelegs extended up by it’s neck.

Another thing I learned during this experience was the plate always has to be parallel to the xray beam – which seems obvious but when holding up the leg of a horse and holding the plate at the same time, it makes being exactly parallel that bit harder! I also saw an X-ray of a horse with kissing spine and watched them use the X-ray scan to medicate between the vertebrates which I thought was amazing that the vet knew exactly where to push the needle in and the angle to hit it at just using an X-ray they had taken.




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