Radiology is an important aid to diagnosis in geriatric patients. It can help in
the early detection of problerns before clinical signs are evident and it can help
in devising a plan for the management of a case. For example, all animals with
neoplasia should be radiographed for evidence of secondary spread to the lungs
or other vital structures before surgical attempts at removal. Care is needed not
to overinterpret radiographic findings for example it is dangerous to consider
intrathoracic masses as being secondary metastases simply because a previous neoplasm
was removed at an earlier date.
The ability of older animals to mask the effects of subclinical disease processes
in major organ systems by compensatory physiological mechanisms that maintain homeostasis
makes diagnosis and evaluation of such individuals a challenge. Evaluation of the
whole animal is particularly important before an elective stressful procedure such
as a surgical procedure under general anaesthesia.
Ageing changes occur in various organs and can present as unusual radiographic
appearances to unsuspecting clinicians.