Ultrasound Seminar At CIRALE

Ultrasound isn't just for prenatal examinations anymore. In the veterinary community in the past year, emphasis has been placed on ultrasound diagnosis of injuries, and this has been reflected in seminars all over the world. More than 20 practitioners from the Italy, Germany, Sweden, Brazil, and the United States converged on Goustranville, France, Nov. 3-5, 2000, to learn state-of-the-art practice in ultrasound diagnosis of joint injuries in the horse. The veterinarians had a special opportunity to explore the new facilities of the Centre d'Imagerie et de Recherche sur les Affections Locomotrices Equines (CIRALE) with world-renowned biomechanics specialist Jean-Marie Denoix, DVM, PhD, and observe several days of clinical cases following the seminar. Denoix is head of CIRALE, which is part of the veterinary school at Alfort.

"Radiographs have been the gold standard for joint diagnosis," said Gayle Trotter, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, of Colorado State University, a conference attendee. "A lot of soft tissue problems go with joint disorders, and I can see where ultrasound complements diagnosis. Dr. Denoix' preparations are brilliant, as are his anatomical specimens for teaching," he added.

Denoix is a professor of equine anatomy and specialist in equine biomechanics at the National Veterinary College at Alfort, France. He is known for the superb anatomical images and slides that he has created over the years. Practitioners and students delight in obtaining hands-on experience in identifying normal and abnormal joint structures under his supervision.

Nicholas De Mitri, DVM, of Sigtuna, Sweden, explained the frustration of treating joint injuries. Ultrasound diagnosis makes an injury clearer and more visible to the client, so a vague diagnosis won't encourage the owner to put the horse back into work too early. "If it's diagnosed simply as a lameness, the owner doesn't want to rest the horse for six months," said De Mitri.

Denoix stressed the importance of having a clear understanding of anatomy before making a specific diagnosis with ultrasound.

"If you are going to make a diagnosis, and if you want to improve your treatment," he said, "you need to know exactly what anatomical structures are involved." He followed these remarks with an in-depth review of the anatomical structures involved in the clinic's exams.

Denoix and the staff of CIRALE demonstrated proper use of equipment, with concurrent projections of the ultrasound image and video of the ultrasound technique, and a detailed commentary. Conference attendees used various ultrasound units and probes to examine the joints of the fetlock, stifle, hock, and knee. Vets also got the unique opportunity to practice rectal ultrasound examination of the lumbosacral junction of the back. It is very difficult to obtain images of the back, but Denoix combined radiography and ultrasound to demonstrate the enhanced ability of this combined approach to diagnose subtle injuries.

"We have a totally new way of looking at new entities of joints that were (previously) not described," Denoix explained.--Stephanie L. Church

(Look for an upcoming article on CIRALE and an in-depth discussion with Denoix on the equine spine in the March 2001 issue of The Horse.)

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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