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New Zealand gets first CT scanner for pets

New Zealand gets first CT scanner for pets

New Zealand pet owners can look forward to improved veterinary diagnosis with the arrival of the country’s first Computed Tomography (CT) scanner designed specifically for pets.

The scanner, a unique diagnostic imaging system worth about $250,000, arrived and was installed at the Waikato After Hours Veterinary Hospital in Hamilton this week.

Waikato After Hours Veterinary Hospital director, Dr Keith Houston, said the arrival of the scanner marks the introduction of the most advanced diagnostic technology for pets currently in New Zealand

“This CT scanner is a particularly pivotal piece of diagnostic technology due to its superiority over a conventional x-ray,” he said.

“When compared to an x-ray, CT scans provide better differentiation of bones and soft tissues. The ‘slice-based’ x-ray technology in a CT scanner avoids the structures that get in the way during a conventional x-ray,” he said.

“Basically, the CT scanner has an x-ray tube that rotates 360° around the animal to record the x-rays from many angles, creating ‘slices’. The slices are stacked together via computer technology to create a three dimensional image of your pet.”

The scanner will typically service pets in the Waikato area with lung disease, nasal disease, ear disease, abdominal and some orthopaedic conditions and pets with metal implants that cannot be imaged with MRI.

Prior to the scanner’s arrival, veterinarians across the country have used human CT scanners in pet diagnosis. However, the level of detail in diagnostic images from the new CT scanner is up to 37 times better resolution than a human scanner.
“The new CT scanner captures 480 ‘slices’ in one rotation. This creates high resolution images for diagnostic accuracy and improved customer education for surgical planning and procedures,” he said.

Dr Houston said ultimately the new technology will empower New Zealand pet owners to make choices about their pet’s future with confidence.

“Sound diagnosis can be difficult without the help of the latest technology. With its superior diagnostic ability, this CT scanner will help give pet owners certainty in making the best decision for their animal companions, following illness or injury,” he said.

Pet owners can choose to have their pets referred to the Waikato After Hours Veterinary Hospital via their own veterinarian for a CT scan. Following the CT scan, a provisional diagnosis is made on site, then the images are sent directly to a CT specialist in America for a final diagnosis, which is delivered back to New Zealand in a matter of hours.

Izac, a seven-year-old Persian cat who has problems with his nose, was the first pet to be scanned.

To the relief of his owner, the scan showed no signs of a tumour but rather a serious infection.

Set-up and installation of the scanner was completed by Dr Horst Bruning, founder of radiological imaging technology and equipment company, Animage, and inventor of the Fidex CT scanner. Dr Bruning flew from San Francisco to complete the process.

“We are delighted to present the first installation of a Fidex CT scanner in New Zealand. This instrument has been developed over the past six years specifically for veterinary use,” he said.

“New Zealand veterinarians can now apply this diagnostic instrument to their clients’ pets in the same way that human patients receive a CT scan. Medical examinations which range from head and brain scans, to assessments of the spine, the thorax, abdomen and extremities, are made easier because of this technology.

“CT is the most specific diagnostic tool available, and the scans coming from the Fidex machine will help to make surgery and other therapeutic interventions highly effective and safe,” he said.

Referrals to the CT scanner will begin this month.


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