Curragh Equine Diagnostics

Curragh Equine Diagnostics is a joint venture between Sycamore Lodge and Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospitals.

Our machine is the Equine Scanner H.R-SCINTRON from MIE (Medical Imaging Electronics), which we believe offers cutting edge digital data, image processing and acquisition, resulting in the most accurately available identification of increased metabolic activity in soft tissue structures or skeletal anatomy.             

In the interests of biosecurity, and also to protect client confidentiality, the unit is located in a new, purpose built stand-alone facility at Sycamore Lodge Equine Hospital, where the horse is also stabled for the 72 hour stay. It is manned by dedicated staff from both practices.

NUCLEAR SCINTIGRAPHY (BONESCAN)

What is scintigraphy and how does it work?

Nuclear scintigraphy is an advanced diagnostic imaging modality that is used in the investigation of equine lameness and poor performance.

A radioactive isotope (called Technetium – 99m) is injected intravenously into the horse. This radioisotope binds to the bone and accumulates in areas where the bone is undergoing active remodelling (either physiological or pathological) producing so called ‘hot spots’.

The radioisotope emits radiation particles that are captured using a gamma camera to give us an image of the equine skeleton. A whole body scan typically takes between 2-3 hours.

The major advantage of a scintigraphy examination is that it allows early detection of a bone injury that may take weeks to become visible on an x-ray.

When do we need to use it?

Scintigraphy plays an important role in our orthopaedic and poor performance examinations and is useful for:

  • Multi limb lameness
  • Acute lameness where a fracture is suspected particularly in the thoroughbred to detect ‘stress’ or hairline fractures of the cannon bone, tibia or pelvis.
  • Lameness which has been localised using nerve blocks, however ultrasound and radiographic examinations are unremarkable.
  • Lameness where nerve blocks have been unable to isolate the source of pain.
  • Low grade or intermittent lameness.
  • To allow evaluation of areas of the skeleton that are not easily accessible using radiography for example the neck, back and pelvis
  • Overall poor performance cases where medical abnormalities eg. respiratory or gastrointestinal issues have been excluded.

What happens after the scan?

In accordance with radiation safety rules the horse remains ‘radioactive’ for 48 hours after the scan, therefore, must remain with us in the hospital until the horse can be discharged or further diagnostics can be performed safely.

Once the images have been processed and interpreted, these will be discussed with your vet.

Depending on the results of the scan, further diagnostic imaging such as radiography or ultrasonography and/or further nerve/joint blocks may be required to establish a diagnosis. Appropriate treatment can then be recommended and implemented.

What you need to know before your horse comes in for a scan.

Please ensure that the horse is dropped off no later than 9.00am on the scheduled day of the scan. If more suitable, it is possible to drop the horse off the day before, please arrange this with reception.

Please ensure that the horse is bandaged on all four legs and rugged the night before the scan (better images are obtained when the horse is warm, increasing blood flow, so improving the uptake of the radioactive isotope and image quality).

The scan is performed under standing sedation so there is no need to starve the horse prior to the scan, please feed as normal.

Unless a fracture is suspected, we will lunge the horse prior to injection with your permission.

Shoes will be removed prior to the scan.

Where possible, providing no overt lameness, it is better for the horse to remain in work in the period leading up to the scan, please consult with your vet.