Diagnostic imaging is an essential component of the diagnostic work-up of many cases. In many instances, a combination of imaging techniques is required. We have available a range of up-to-date imaging equipment including radiography machines and computed radiography equipment, a number of different ultrasound machines, a variety of videoendoscopes, a gamma camera (for nuclear scintigraphy) and MRI. We are proud to have been at the forefront of developing standing MRI for the diagnosis of the cause of certain types of lameness, and we were the first veterinary clinic in the world to install a standing equine MRI limb scanner. Our work with MRI has resulted in the publication of a number of scientific articles in the veterinary literature (see list of publications).
The clinic currently has three X ray units, including a powerful gantry-mounted unit. These allow us to obtain radiographs of high diagnostic quality of most parts of the horse’s body, including the upper limbs, neck and chest. The state-of-the-art computerised radiography system permits detailed image manipulation, thereby increasing its value over conventional film-based radiography.
We currently have four diagnostic ultrasound machines, allowing a complete range of ultrasound examinations to be performed, including linear array scanning with probes ranging from 4MHz to 10MHz, and sector scanning (with ability to perform colour flow doppler examinations) with probes from 2.5MHz to 6MHz. Ultrasound examinations have become a major and valuable part of the investigation of horses affected by many orthopaedic diseases (e.g. tendon and ligament damage, joint evaluation, some fractures, back diseases, etc.), abdominal diseases (e.g. colics, abdominal tumours, weight loss cases, liver diseases, etc.), thoracic diseases (e.g. heart conditions, pleurisy, etc.), and gynaecological conditions (e.g. pregnancy diagnosis, routine monitoring pre-breeding and for A.I., ovarian abnormalities, etc.). Ultrasound guidance is commonly used for the precise and safe biopsy of the liver, kidney and other internal structures.
Bone scanning is performed on over 100 horses per annum, usually as a part of a lameness examination, but also in some cases as a part of the evaluation of neurological or other conditions. We have a GE Medical Starport gamma camera mounted on an overhead gantry that permits imaging of the entire horse. The procedure is carried out under sedation. Horses undergoing this examination need to be hospitalised for at least 48 hours following injection with the radioactive drug. See Information about bone scanning.
BEVC was the first equine clinic in the world to install a MRI scanner capable of imaging the limbs of a standing horse. The scanner was installed here in 2002, and since then we have undertaken important evaluations of the system, and have collaborated with workers in a number of institutions around the world. MRI allows the detailed examination of the different structures of the lower limb, and is particularly useful in the evaluation of diseases of the foot. Our investigations have and continue to provide important and novel information about many diseases of the foot, including the so-called "navicular disease". The procedure can also provide valuable information about more proximal areas of the limbs, such as the fetlock, knee and suspensory ligament, and we are currently assessing the value of such examinations in the overall evaluation of horses affected by diseases of these structures. See Information about MRI.
CT (Computed Tomography)
CT (Computed Tomography) is an imaging technique that uses a rotating x-ray machine and a computer to create cross-sectional slices through the body. Our CT scanner is one of only 7 scanners in the country able to acquire studies of equine heads in standing patients (thereby eliminating the need and risks of general anaesthesia). The CT scanner is particularly useful for investigating and diagnosing dental diseases as well as conditions affecting the sinuses, brain and skull. The image slices generated by the CT scanner are significantly clearer than traditional X rays, allowing more accurate diagnosis and helping with surgical planning. The CT scanner can also be used to image the lower legs, but in order to do this the horse needs to be imaged under general anaesthesia.
In order to scan a standing animal, the horse is sedated and stands on a moving platform that moves the head through the doughnut-shaped scanner. The scanner contains an X ray tube that rotates around the horse’s head as it travels through the scanner. In this way, detailed X ray images are produced in the form of thin slices through the head. The images produced by a CT scan are much more detailed than standard X-rays. The CT scan produces images of structures inside the head, including the teeth, sinuses, brain, blood vessels, bones and tumours. The CT scans are particularly helpful in evaluating horses with, among others, dental abnormalities, sinus problems, headshaking, neurological diseases and head trauma.
For more information on the procedure, please see Information about CT or if you think this might be beneficial for your horse or pony, please call BELL EQUINE on 01622 813700 to speak to one of the vets.