Digital radiology has several advantages and is becoming more commonplace in veterinary medicine. This study compared conventional high-resolution screen–film radiography with digital radiography in 20 anesthetized birds (14 pigeons, 6 psittacines) with an average body mass of 533 grams. Each bird was imaged using conventional and digital radiographs taken at the same mAs, followed by digital radiographs acquired at a 50% lower mAs. Visual grading analysis was then performed by 5 veterinarians over 4 anatomic regions (humerus, lung with air sacs, syrinx/trachea, and kidneys). Results showed no significant difference in image quality between the digital and screen–film images for the majority of criteria. The quality of the digital images was superior for such delicate structures as spongy bone and tracheal rings. The quality was also better for structures with high contrast, such as bony structures and air–tissue boundaries. A 50% reduction in mAs yielded digital images of comparable or better quality than conventional films except for the trabecular structure of the humerus. Use of lower mAs with digital films may reduce motion artifacts. The study concluded that the digital technique was equal or superior to conventional radiographs for pet birds of medium size. In some cases, a lower dose is preferable with the digital system.

Commentary:
Comparative studies of digital versus conventional radiography have been completed in dogs, cats, horses, and snakes. There are many advantages of digital radiography, not the least of which is the ability to enhance and store images. This study empowers those practitioners who want to use digital imaging in their avian patients.—Patricia Thomblison, DVM, MS

Comparison of the image quality of a high-resolution screen-film system and a digital flat panel detector system in avian radiography. Bochmann M, Ludewig E, Krautwald-Junghanns M, et al. VET RADIOL ULTRASOUND doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8261.2011.01801.