Horses and other large animals visiting the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University for lameness exams will benefit from the recent installation of a unique large animal gamma camera. The new system allows CSU veterinarians to take highly detailed image of the skeleton and soft tissues quickly.
Veterinary radiology specialists at the CSU use this equipment– one of only two in the state – to monitor different musculoskeletal problems such as stress fractures, infections, arthritis and injuries to the soft tissues that attach to bone. This technology provides a fairly rapid study of the entire skeleton and helps evaluate areas of the body that are difficult to x-ray in a large animal, such as the spine and pelvis. That information is valuable in determining treatments.
The new equipment features a large field-of-view camera and state-of-the-art software that allows motion correction on the images if the animal being scanned moves during the scan.
“Colorado State University has six board certified veterinary radiologists who evaluate the images on site, providing immediate evaluations, which allows veterinary surgeons to quickly create a treatment plan,” said Dr. Debra Gibbons, a radiology specialist at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Gibbons is a veterinarian and a professor in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
“Large animals, such as horses, don’t have to undergo anesthesia while we get these images. We can position them standing in the room and move the gamma camera around them to acquire the images.”
For this type of imaging exam, horses and other large animals receive a low-level dose of radioactive material – less than the amount a human is exposed to when he or she flies across the United States. Depending upon how the material is designed, it travels to different parts of the body, such as the skeleton. One of the radioactive materials used at the VTH for this scanner localizes to fractures, stressed bones, infections and other abnormalities, which makes the abnormalities visible on the images.
The material is not present in the animal’s body for very long and much of it is excreted in the urine within the first two hours. Animals are often able to go home within 24 hours.