FAQs on Imaging at Illinois

Aug 2, 2017 / Practitioner Updates

Students practice imaging

Since the departure of the radiology faculty member and residents in May 2016, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital has taken many steps to ensure that clinical patients receive quality imaging exams and that veterinary students receive the experience and education they need to become successful veterinarians. Here are answers to questions referrers may have about how the imaging service continues to operate.

Who is in charge of imaging?
ImagingAs detailed in the questions below, many dedicated, experienced faculty work together to meet clinical and curricular imaging needs. Susan Hartman, senior imaging specialist, provides support for the clinical and administrative functions of the imaging service and oversees the PACS and teleradiology processes. Six experienced imaging CVTs perform all radiology and many advanced imaging modality exams, as well as provide daily instruction for veterinary students. The medical records and information technology departments provide infrastructure to keep the service running smoothly.

Who is providing reports on imaging exams?
We have several sources of experts to provide quality reports on every imaging exam performed on clinical patients.

  • Dr. Cintia Oliveira, DVM, MS, DACVR, provides reports for radiographs, CT and MRI. Dr. Oliveira resides in Florida and maintains direct communication with hospital faculty and staff daily, Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Friday 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Dr. Oliveira earned her veterinary degree from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil, completed diagnostic imaging internships at Louisiana State University and at the University of Illinois, a master’s degree at Illinois with Dr. Bob O’Brien, and a diagnostic imaging residency at Illinois, finished at the University of Wisconsin.
  • VetCT is a teleradiology service staffed by Diplomates of the European or American diagnostic imaging colleges (DipECVDI or DACVR) who reside in the United Kingdom or Australia. These specialists deliver high-quality reports, including labelled images and explanations of abnormalities present, to help students learn from every case that is submitted.
  • Dr. Sharon Wagner, DVM, RDCS (Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer), an onsite ultrasound specialist, performs and reports on the majority of ultrasound exams and aspirates.
  • Two imaging technicians have been trained to perform ultrasound exams using units that stream the exams live to Oncura, the teleradiology company that provides technical support for the ultrasonographer and the final diagnostic report.
  • Echocardiograms are performed and reported by Dr. Ryan Fries or Dr. Jordan Vitt, both board-certified cardiologists.
  • Faculty specialists are trained and experienced in evaluating imaging studies in their respective areas. For example, cardiologists report on thoracic radiographs, neurologists have direct input on MRI exams, and equine faculty and residents review images as they are being taken.

How long does it take to get a report on an imaging exam?
During the hours when Dr. Oliveira is dictating, hospital clinicians can speak with Dr. Oliveira directly by phone. Priority written exams are available within 24 hours. Standard reports are available in one to three business days. Ultrasound verbal reports are available from Dr. Wagner at the completion of the exam. Written reports are available within 12 hours. Oncura provides one-hour stat reports and six-hour standard written reports.

VetCT offers report turn around times as follows (except on weekends, when they have limited availability due to the difference in time zones):

  • Urgent radiographs: 1 hour
  • Urgent CT/MRI: 4 hours
  • Priority reports: 24 hours
  • Standard reports: 1 to 3 days

Why have outpatient imaging and consultations been discontinued?
Outpatient services were discontinued because there are no onsite radiologists or radiology residents to oversee patient care. Likewise, consultations, which were offered to provide imaging residents with additional experience and cases, have been suspended until the residency program is resumed.

What is the plan for having in-house radiologists again?
Like several other U.S. veterinary colleges, Illinois is actively recruiting for radiologist positions. However, now that imaging has evolved to a digital technology and teleradiology services are prevalent, veterinary radiologists can choose from a range of non-university job opportunities.

Illinois is sponsoring two radiology residents at University of Florida who will join our faculty upon residency completion—one in 2019 and one in 2020.

Who is teaching the veterinary students?
Education remains a priority in imaging. Drs. Dennis French, Sharon Wagner, and Lori Madsen have taken on many of the lectures on imaging in the fourth-year curriculum. In addition, online video modules have been developed and are included for the first- and second-year students.

The fourth-year imaging rotation is three weeks long. Numerous faculty and residents give lectures and present case studies from their specialties, illustrating the role imaging plays in the diagnostic process. Students participate via Skype in the radiology rounds at the University of Wisconsin three times per week. Ultrasound lectures and labs are given weekly. Videos on technical information and radiology-specific techniques are also provided for non-clinical hours.

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Despite the changes over the past year, Illinois patients continue to receive high quality imaging care. In fact, with the acquisition of the 3T MRI unit in November, the University of Illinois delivers cutting-edge technology for its patients.

Got other questions? Please contact Susan Hartman at shman@illinois.edu.

Susan Hartman RT(R)CT, Senior Imaging Specialist