High-Tech Horse Scanner is a First for Western Australia

The Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital (MUVH) has unveiled a high-tech diagnostic tool—the first of its kind in Western Australia.

The new computed tomography scanner, commonly known as a CT scanner, is large enough to accommodate horses, as well as smaller animals.

“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 David Reese, DVM, Dipl. ACVR, head of diagnostic imaging at MUVH. “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 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 (radiographs), 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,” said Hospital Director Mark Lawrie, BVSc. “This machine also scans quickly, reducing the amount of time a horse has to be under anesthesia 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 research.

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