To grid or not to grid? What you missed if you didn’t attend this year’s AVA Conference


This year’s AVA Pan Pacific Conference was an excellent opportunity for vets to explore the evolution of radiology technology in the veterinary space.

This year’s AVA Pan Pacific Conference was an excellent opportunity for vets and providers alike to delve into best practice management, innovation, and the evolution of radiology technology in the veterinary space.

In addition to demonstrating the very latest in digital imaging equipment for the vet space, we had the opportunity to answer some quite specific, and undoubtedly important questions raised by vets like you. If you missed out on attending the conference this year, I’d like to share with you the two major concerns we heard about repeatedly, as the sheer number of conversations I had around these topics leads me to believe that you may have also these concerns.

To grid or not to grid?

It turns out that there is a lot of confusion around grids, and I was asked:

  • What is the most appropriate way to use grids?
  • What kind of grid is best?
  • Do we even need them at all?

After all, when you take into account the focal distance, lines per centimetre, and ratio, we’re talking along the lines of 200-300 possible grid variations. No wonder there is so much confusion!

And here’s why: Using equipment that is not fitted with a grid will not absorb the scatter of the radiation, resulting in a deterioration in image quality. As you can imagine, when the diagnostic image quality reduces, the likelihood of an inaccurate diagnosis is increased. The x-ray source, subject are all before the radiation detection device (DR or CR or Film Cassette), and this process still remains an analogue process that needs a grid to supress or absorb scatter radiation (click here and look up “Cassette Grid” for more information).

So let me start with the last question. Do we really even need grids? The answer is yes.

In addition, using an incorrect grid for the system you are using for imaging makes it difficult to maintain appropriate image quality. Therefore we recommend that you consult with an expert to determine the correct grid for your needs so that you can maintain appropriate image quality at all times.

If you’re still struggling to figure out which grid works best for you, we’re here to help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch so that we can discuss your situation and recommend theright grid for your needs.

The controversy of the handheld x ray sources

As you may already be aware, the use of hand-held dental x ray machines is not permitted in some states across Australia. It is considered in those states that the dental x ray must be used on a stand.

Handheld units on a tripod are not necessarily a practical solution, as the tripod can’t be positioned close enough to the table the animal is on.

Other downfalls of the handheld device include:

  • Difficulty in getting an accurate bisecting angle;
  • The inconvenience of repositioning, which is a complete restart of the positioning process, rather than a mere readjust if multiple attempts and recalculations are needed to capture a proper image;
  • There is too much room for movement, leading to blurry images that are not useful for diagnostic work; and
  • The typical lower current output on handheld units means that this must be compensated for with higher exposure times.

Ideally, what you need from your dental x-ray unit is a stable platform for achieving good positioning, especially the bisecting angle. Given the high value of space in a practice environment, minimal space consumption is also a necessary attribute.

We have had multiple clients come to us complaining that they couldn’t find an adequate dental x-ray solution to meet all their requirements. Keen to help them address the challenge, we worked with them to successfully attach their dental cart to the x ray unit itself.

A dental cart attached to the x ray unit

A dental cart attached to the x-ray unit

Once the cart is positioned, it stays in position, allowing the bisecting angle to remain constant. As a result, these vets now enjoy improved image quality and an increase in space in their consulting rooms.

We can fit just about any model of dental cart on your x ray unit. If you would like to switch away from your hand held unit, or if you are looking to save more space, you can contact us for advice on a dental cart that best suits your practice.

If you are concerned by any of the issues I’ve described above and would like to discuss please give me a call on 1300 596 664 or send me an email to

Read Hedditch is the Managing Director of ARO Systems. He has more than 30 years’ of experience in the medical imaging industry and is proud to have been part of the early push for vet-specific imaging equipment. Read is especially focused on helping Australian vets modernise their practices for the future by tailoring solutions for each customer’s needs.