We are a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) approved equine hospital.
Computed tomography (CT) images are formed by a xray generator and detector rotating around the patient. The resulting information can be viewed as cross-sectional slices which can be set up in any direction the viewer wishes.
CT provides excellent bony detail and provides more soft tissue detail than standard xrays. Unlike xray images where the anatomy is superimposed, CT images avoid superimposition of anatomy; this is particularly important in a complex area such as the head, where superimposition makes interpretation of xrays challenging.
CT scans are very quick to run (up to a couple of minutes), however the preparation and positioning of the patient takes time. Additionally, if the examination is performed under standing sedation (generally examination of the head), any movement will compromise image quality so repeat scans may be required.
The head is the area of the horse that most commonly undergoes CT examination and this can normally be performed in a standing, sedated horse, and is generally a very safe and well tolerated procedure. CT of the head is extremely useful for the investigation of dental disease and sinus or nasal disease. Other indications for CT examination of the head include headshaking and assessment of trauma/fractures
CT of the neck and limbs can be performed in anaesthetised horses; the precise regions which can be imaged depends on the size of the horse and the diameter of the bore of the CT machine (the hole in the polo!). CT technology is evolving rapidly and some machines allow imaging of the lower limbs in the standing, sedated horse.
CT of the thorax (chest) and abdomen (belly) can be performed in small ponies and foals, again under anaesthesia.
Equine CT is still in its infancy and it continues to reveal many new conditions that we are trying to learn more about. In order to research the applications of CT in horses, we are always interested in hearing how individual horses have fared after they have returned home from having a CT scan. We may contact you and your vet in the future to find out how your horse has got on.
Another important way of increasing our knowledge is by correlating the results of CT with surgical and post mortem examinations. If your horse has previously had a CT scan and undergoes surgery on the same area, we would be grateful to hear of the findings. If for any reason your horse has to be euthanased, then we would welcome the opportunity to perform a post-mortem examination of the scanned area. In this way we can further increase our knowledge and expertise for the benefit of horses in the future.