Taking pictures as a vet: How to see inside your pet - CBS 2019 talk

Public summary: 

X-rays are an extremely useful type of image that are used by vets almost every day. When might a vet need to take an X-ray? How do X-ray machines work? What can you see on an X-ray image? And what do X-rays of different animals look like?

Useful information
Kit List: 

X-ray light box
A few example X-rays
A slinky
A projector
A cardboard shape/puppet
Foam blocks/troughs/ropes/sand bags
A soft toy dog
A cardboard model of an x-ray film/casette
Possibly a real dog


The talk is going to investigate the science behind taking X-rays in a practical context: how they are used in a vet practice. The talk will include a PowerPoint presentation to provide supporting explanation.
Pet dog- There might be a real dog at the front of the lecture theatre. This could be used as the subject of a story I tell to demonstrate why it might be necessary to take an X-ray. A real dog would capture everyone’s attention and also make it feel like a very real and practical situation. If the dog is well-behaved, it might also be used to demonstrate how dogs might be positioned for an X-ray to be taken.
Slinky- I might show how electromagnetic radiation is a transverse wave using a slinky. A volunteer might be called up to hold one end of the slinky and I will demonstrate how to produce waves. By increasing the frequency of the vibrations, it will demonstrate how x-ray waves are essentially a type of radiation that is very similar to light waves but that are of a higher frequency and higher energy. This will help to explain why they are able to pass through the skin and so be used to image inside animals in a way a light beam cannot.
Shadows- I may do a demonstration to illustrate the principle of how shadows are created. I might use a projector to shine a beam of light at a white board. Then a volunteer might be called up to come and hold a different cardboard shape in front of the beam of light, such as a shape of a bone, and experiment with how by blocking light rays a beam of light rays, a shadow is formed. This will help demonstrate how an x-ray machine is basically a beam of x-ray waves and that certain things can block x-rays like bone, metal, some minerals etc. The picture produced by a beam of X-rays is essentially a shadow.
Foam blocks/troughs/ropes/sand bags- There is a possibility that the vet school could provide some examples of methods used to position pets before taking x-rays. This process is important to ensure the position of the pet relative to the x-ray film is aligned and appropriate to achieve a clear image of a select part of the anatomy.
Soft toy dog and cardboard shape of an X-ray film/cassette- I could use a soft toy dog to demonstrate how pets can be positioned to take x-rays in relation to the x-ray film, which would help to explain the practicalities of taking x-rays and what the images that are formed actually mean in relation to how the x-rays are taken.
Light Box- If available to use in this demonstration, the light box may be used to demonstrate how an x-ray picture obtained can be viewed, along with some example X-ray films

Risk Assessment
Date risk assesment last checked: 
Sat, 12/01/2019
Risk assesment checked by: 
Date risk assesment double checked: 
Sat, 12/01/2019
Risk assesment double-checked by: 
Risk Assessment: 
Hazard Risk Likelihood Severity Overall Mitigation Likelihood Severity Overall
A real dog Could bite a child 2 3 6 Keep the dog on a lead and under close supervision.
The activities involving children would not directly involve the dog at the same time so the risk would be reduced.
Also only a dog that is very well-behaved, tolerant and unlikely to show any form of aggression or aggravation would be used.
1 3 3
Allergies Members of the audience may have an allergy to pets and a real dog could trigger an allergic reaction. 2 3 6 Warning would be given in advance of the fact that a real dog might be used in the demonstration.
Anyone who is aware they could be allergic can be given the opportunity to lead or can be advised to sit toward the back of the lecture theatre and would not be used in the other demonstrations.
1 3 3
Slinky Could trap fingers/recoil quickly and hurt child holding the other end. 4 1 4 Select a child who is old enough to hold the end of the slinky tightly, tell them not to let go and make sure not to suddenly let go of the other end of the slinky in demonstrating. 3 1 3
Shadows Child could look directly at the projector light and be dazzled. 3 1 3 The child can be advised not to look directly at the light. 2 1 2
Puppet Child could poke themselves with the stick that is holding the cardboard shape. 3 1 3 Hand the puppet to the child the right way up and supervise them whilst they handle the puppet to create a shadow. 2 1 2