Computed Tomography (CT) is the latest specialist imaging equipment to be added at Oakham Veterinary Hospital. The CT machine takes multiple, single slice x-rays and is able to create a highly detailed 3-dimensional reconstruction of the patient.
The x-ray slices are taken as the patient passes through a gantry (known as the doughnut). This gantry houses the x-ray generator which rotates around the patient.
The computer then uses sophisticated software to turn these images into a 3-dimensional reconstruction. Using the software, we can look at the highly detailed single slice images and the 3-D reconstruction to fully visualise and understand the location of the pathology. CT imaging is ideal for examining bone or soft tissue structures of the head and neck of horses, or anywhere in a dog or cat.
With our specifically designed facility at Oakham we are able to image equine patients’ heads, necks and limbs. The region and size of the horse determines whether or not the imaging can be performed with standing sedation or requires a general anaesthetic.
Imaging of the head and upper neck is usually performed with standing sedation. CT is particularly useful for the investigation of problems of the head, since the three dimensional structure of the head makes interpreting x-rays very difficult. We use CT to image dental disease and other causes of nasal discharge or bleeding. It is also possible to evaluate the joints of the jaw(temporomandibular joint), which is relevant in horses that suffer from head shaking. For standing CT the horse stands on a specially designed hydraulic platform which takes the patient through the gantry. The image capture, or scan, takes no longer than a couple of minutes.
The imaging of limbs and the base of the neck requires the horse to have a short general anaesthetic. CT is becoming widely used for pre-operative imaging and accurate surgical planning. The 3-D reconstructions allow us to fully understand the pathology, its location and the precise treatment required. In many circumstances the imaging may show that the patient doesn’t require surgery and thus only requires a very short anaesthetic.
Our CT suite at Oakham is deliberately located adjacent to our operating theatres. Therefore, with pre-operative imaging, CT at Oakham adds very little to total anaesthesia time of patient, whilst ensuring our surgical approach is as accurate and efficient as possible.
Common indications for Equine CT scans:
- Trauma or fracture evaluation
- Pre-surgical planning particularly for arthroscopy and tenoscopy
- Joint and bone evaluation
- Nasal mass or chronic nasal drainage
- Chronic dental issues or tooth extraction planning
- Head shaking.
- Sepsis or osseous abnormalities in foals
- Other specialty studies