University vet hospital in Perth gets horse-capable CT scanner

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The new CT scanner at  Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital is able to take horses.
The new CT scanner at Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital is able to take horses.

Perth’s Murdoch University has unveiled its latest hi-tech diagnostic tool – a CT scanner large enough to accommodate horses.

The scanner, in the university’s veterinary hospital, is the first of its kind in Western Australia.

The new computed tomography (CT) scanner can cater for small animals right up to horses.

“This will allow us to look at bones and soft tissue in greater detail, significantly improving our ability to diagnose a variety of diseases,” said radiologist Dr David Reese, Head of Diagnostic Imaging at the veterinary hospital.

Murdoch staff guide their first CT scanner patient onto the equine-capable table.
Murdoch staff guide their first CT scanner patient on to the equine-capable table.

“It’s an invaluable diagnostic tool, and it’s great to have it here in WA.”

It’s expected the CT scanner will benefit horses with sinus disease, dental disease, head and neck trauma, lower limb fractures and lameness.

“The lower limbs of a horse are difficult to investigate, because the hoof prevents us from getting a clear picture using other diagnostic imaging tools,” Reese said.

“With the CT scanner, we can manipulate the images, giving us a more detailed look at problem areas.

“We can also inject a special dye, called contrast, which allows us to assess blood vessels, diseased tendons and other tissues.”

The scanner and equine-capable table were imported from Germany and the United States. The new facility cost $A550,000 and was funded by generous donations to the Murdoch University Veterinary Trust.

Before the machine was installed, injured horses were sometimes assessed using tissue biopsy, X-ray or ultrasound. Horses previously had to be transported interstate for CT scans.

“By having a machine like this available locally, horse owners will save a lot of time and money,” hospital director Dr Mark Lawrie said.

“This machine also scans quickly, reducing the amount of time a horse has to be under anaesthesia and, in turn, reducing some of the risks associated with that.”

In addition to being a diagnosis tool, the CT scanner will also be used for teaching and especially research.

More information on the the veterinary hospital: http://www.murdoch.edu.au/Services/Veterinary-Hospital/

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