Digital X Rays Simplify Repository Procedures at Keeneland Sales

Keeneland first to offer digital technology for reviewing pre-sale digital radiography exams involving thousands of horses

The Keeneland Thoroughbred breeding stock auction held November in Lexington, Ky., marked the first time digital images of radiographs were available for review and archiving. Eklin Digital put equipment and and servers in place so veterinarians representing sellers could archive the images electronically, and veterinarians representing buyers could bring up the images through a secure server.

In years past, the 32 X ray images per horse required massive storage capacity at the sales grounds, since more than 4,700 horses are catalogued for some of the sales. The retrieval and viewing of those X rays were cumbersome processes, and only one veterinarian at a time could view the images, sometimes causing a backlog. With digital radiography (DR) images, storage, and retrieval, the images can be called up securely by more than one veterinarian at a time, adjusted for brightness, and magnified to look at particular areas of interest.

"During the auction's two week duration, the logistics of accommodating almost 200 veterinarians reviewing sets of 32 images per horse for approximately 4,700 horses were massive," said Cathy Schenck, Keeneland's repository supervisor, as noted in a press release from Eklin. "With only one set of films available per horse, imagine scores of veterinarians standing in line waiting to analyze images on some of the more popular horses. Needless to say, it can get quite hectic at times."
For Keeneland, this service easily amounts to hundreds of thousands of films to be reviewed at each auction. For example, at this year's September yearling sale, the 4,700 sets of pre-sale images were reviewed an average of 3.4 times per set, amounting to the actual physical handling of more than half a million X ray films.

During the annual American Association of Equine Practitioners' annual convention in San Antonio, held Dec. 3-6, Eklin Medical Systems announced it had installed the Eklin Digital Repository System at Keeneland, which debuted at the annual November breeding stock sale. Developed in conjunction with Eklin's partner Cedara Software, a Merge Healthcare company, the installation marked the beginning of Keeneland's transition to digital image review and archiving. 

Twelve workstations located within the repository incorporate Eklin and Cedara technology to allow multiple veterinarians the ability to simultaneously log onto the system and instantly retrieve pre-sale DR exams. The images are then reviewed on a high-grade gray scale medical monitor. The system tracks the number of reviews and the reviewer’s identification, providing an instant tracking report back to Keeneland.

"The introduction of the Eklin Digital Repository at Keeneland has been extremely well received by veterinarians, as well as buyers and sellers of these Thoroughbreds," said Gary R. Cantu, president and CEO of Eklin. "We are pleased that our partnership with Cedara has resulted in bringing state-of-the-art image review from the human world to this world class auction facility. Given the feedback to date, we believe other repositories and veterinary practices will soon implement similar capabilities as we expand our presence in this dynamic new market."

Just as digital cameras have made photography easier and more efficient by eliminating film, DR systems provide the veterinarian with a radiographic image that can be viewed immediately on a high-resolution monitor without the need for film development. DR systems also offer sophisticated image processing tools, giving the veterinarian much greater depth of information that can be enlarged or manipulated for far better detail, resulting in closer scrutiny of potential areas of concern. Images can be burned to a CD, or stored and archived for future evaluation using a PACS (Picture Archiving and Communications System).

Many of the leading equine practitioners, who submit or review pre-sale exams at the Keeneland auctions, currently use DR and digital image management within their practices. Keeneland's transition to a Digital Repository came as welcome news.

"Hagyard was among the earliest in the nation to adopt digital radiography technology and we have subsequently grown to ten Eklin DR systems in preparation for Keeneland’s implementation of a Digital Repository," said Andrew R. Clark, DVM, MBA, president and CEO, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington. "The installation of the Digital Repository at Keeneland provides significant advantages for not only the reviewing veterinarian, but also for those of us who submit high quality DR images to be reviewed.

"Now, the reviewing veterinarian can analyze a highly detailed DR image which can be optimized to focus on regions of specific interest. Plus, the opportunity to digitally review images versus handling multiple analogue films for each horse will provide a welcomed opportunity to save time."

Originally, this leading edge medical image and information management solution was developed for the global healthcare market, including such diverse industries as pharmaceutical, dentistry, orthopedics, radiology, oncology, women's health and more.

"I believe the transition to digital review at Keeneland will revolutionize the way we conduct pre-sale exams and analyses," said William A. Rood, DVM, JD, founder of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington. "The ease of recalling 32 digital images at your fingertips and ability to electronically store complete exams is a major breakthrough. In fact, it could have a substantial impact on sharing and reviewing pre-sale exams on a global basis."

Keeneland is the first Thoroughbred auction facility in the world to use digital image management for pre-sale exam reviews. As digital solutions expand throughout the veterinary care industry, similar benefits originally realized in the human healthcare market are materializing.

"With digital solutions, cost and time savings increase dramatically plus hazardous waste from film developing and disposal is eliminated," said Cantu. "Most importantly, however, digital technology provides superb images. This results in better patient outcomes and more accurate diagnoses. In the end, everyone--seller, buyer and horse--wins."

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