Images worth 1,000 words
October 20, 2020
Lori Arent
Fish hook in the gastrointestinal tract of a bald eagle

Perhaps the most important piece of equipment you will find in The Raptor Center clinic is a radiograph machine. Every patient that enters our doors gets between two and four radiographs (x-rays) taken upon admission. This is part of our complete diagnostic workup to ensure we don’t miss something during our physical exam. 

The images help us determine the presence and details of injuries, such as fractures or internal trauma, and even if a bird had a recent meal. Sometimes, the findings are quite unexpected! From an egg about to be laid, to a fishhook lodged in the gastrointestinal tract, the surprising information discovered greatly helps us set the best course of treatment. 

Thanks to a generous gift by longtime supporters Tom and Ann Schwalen, we will soon upgrade our critical radiograph machine from a CR unit (computed radiology) to a DR unit (digital radiography). Images will be delivered directly to a computer; i.e., no processing of cassettes is required. This is a more efficient system that provides higher quality images. Not only will this allow us to provide even better care to our raptor patients, but it will also enhance our teaching efforts.

Radiograph showing a leg fixation used to surgically repair fractures
This very full red-shouldered hawk has food in its crop and you can see a bird skull in its stomach (circled)
This barred owl chick had an extra toe growing from its leg as seen in this radiograph
Hawk with a full crop (large bones) and stomach
Lead shot in the stomach of a bald eagle shows up as bright white spots
If you look at the wing of this rough-legged hawk you_ll see an intraosseous catheter, a catheter that we insert into the bone tissue
Eggs show up on radiographs, as seen in this barn owl.
Another angle of a barn owl with two eggs inside its body
Great horned owl with fish hooks embedded in its wing
High-energy collisions can result in serious fractures as seen in this sharp-shinned hawk wing