Computed Radiography: Views in the Field Pay Off

Computed radiography (CR) is revolutionizing diagnostic imaging, and veterinarians worldwide are learning of its benefits. Joseph J. Bertone, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, of Alpine Animal Hospital in Carbondale, Colo., spoke on CR at the Ocala Equine Veterinary Conference in Ocala, Fla., in late 2001.


Digital imaging technology was introduced in human medicine in the 1980s, and it since has been modified for veterinarians so they can take radiographs in the field and view them without having to return to a clinic to develop film. Reusable storage phosphor imaging plates are used instead of film. The captured image can be displayed on-screen, e-mailed to consultants, or printed.


According to Bertone, digital images have higher contrast resolution (more shades of gray) than film images. This reduces the need for retakes because images can be contrast-adjusted with computer software.


"Marginal images can now be optimized, increasing their diagnostic utility," said Bertone, adding, "It's possible to see both soft tissue and bone detail in a single image, reducing the total number of images that have to be shot."


Several universities and large practices have in-clinic Fuji CR systems, which are quite expensive. New CR equipment that is more compact and affordable has been introduced recently, enabling practitioners in the field to utilize the technology.


One advantage of these small, mobile systems is the ability to adjust and interpret radiographs in the field while highlighting suspect areas and noting comments for future readings. Also, by eliminating film and chemical-based processing, some labor-related costs and the need for darkrooms and storage space are eliminated. There are also savings on multiple-technique exposures, the reduction of retakes, and easy retrieval of images.


"Far and away the most important benefit of mobile CR systems is faster case closure," said Bertone. The ability to view images immediately allows the practitioner to diagnose on-site, and consult with the owner and farrier right away. "Practitioners in the field are no longer limited by how many films were loaded into the truck that morning."

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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