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Scintigraphy

Information For Owners of Horses Undergoing Scintigraphy:

  • If your horse is insured, you should inform the insurance company that we intend to undertake a nuclear scintigraphy examination and, where appropriate, check that the insurers are prepared to cover the costs of this. Where possible this should be done well in advance of your appointment date. You can download our guide for insurance claims HERE.
  • Owners need to arrive with their horse (and its passport) the afternoon before their appointment or by 09:30am on the morning of the scan (or by special arrangement at other times). Most horses will need to have a full examination before the bone scan is undertaken. There is no need to starve the horse prior to admission.
  • To improve the quality of the images obtained, the horse should be kept in work during the preceding 2 weeks prior to being admitted, unless your vet advises against this.
  • Shoes do not routinely have to be removed for bone scans unless the horse is shod in bar shoes and the feet are being imaged: please ask your vet for clarification.
  • Owners need to bring with them the rugs that the horse would normally wear. We will supply hay/haylage and hard food.
  • Unless we are advised to the contrary the horse will be lunged on the morning of the scan and then stable bandages will be applied.
  • A small patch on the neck will be clipped and cleaned and an intravenous catheter will be placed to allow injection of the radioactive drug and sedative drugs during the procedure. Please inform us if you have any objection to the horse being clipped.
  • Horses are injected with the radioactive drug intravenously between 10.00 am and 1.00 pm on the day of the scan and are ready to be scanned two hours later. Once injected the horse becomes radioactive. As a result of the radioactivity the horse is confined to a Controlled Area (i.e. a normal stable) for 48 hours after the injection and owners are not permitted to visit the horse during this period.
  • For safety reasons the horse will not be mucked out whilst the stable remains a Controlled Area. This is because the horse will pass the radiation in the urine. Handling of the horse is also kept to a minimum during the time, but the horse will be checked regularly and receives fresh food and water as normal.
  • The scan is performed under standing sedation (ie not general anaesthesia). Dependent on the regions to be scanned and the temperament of the horse, the procedure can last anything up to two hours. It is not possible for owners to be present for the scan due to radiation safety rules.
  • Once scanned the horse is taken back to its stable and left for the radioactivity to decay.
  • Approximately 48 hours after the scan, when the horse is no longer radioactive, further work-up such as X-rays or nerve blocks may be performed to follow up any findings from the bone scan. For horses having further work up at Bell Equine, clients will be advised when to come to collect their horse, subject to progress with further investigations. Occasionally it is necessary for the horse to be kept in for more than the standard 3 to 4 days to allow more time for further diagnostic procedures. Horses which have been referred for bone scan with the further work up to be performed by the referring vet will normally be ready to collect after midday, 2 days after the scan was performed.
  • Clients will normally be informed of the bone scan findings the day after the scan.  For horses which have been referred for bone scan only we endeavour to inform referring vets of the scan results as promptly as possible so that the client can discuss findings and further diagnostic / treatment plans with their own vet.
  • The very strict procedures in place are to minimise the exposure of staff to radiation and are a legal requirement. This is necessary as we perform approximately 200 bone scans per year. The single dose of radiation that the horse is exposed to during the procedure poses no known risk to its health.