Imaging Services at New Bolton Center
Services include Nuclear Scintigraphy, Ultrasound. Digital Radiography, MRI, CAT Scan and High Speed Treadmill Evaluation.
Nuclear scintigraphy at New Bolton Center dates from 1993 and makes Penn Vet among the earliest facilities to offer this form of imaging for large animals.
Imaging well over 400 horses each year, the nuclear medicine program at New Bolton Center is one of the busiest in the world.
Dr. Michael Ross assumed primary responsibility for developing the facility at New Bolton Center and continues to interpret the studies. Three-phase bone scans can be obtained (vascular, soft tissue and bone phases). However because of the rapidity with which the radiopharmaceutical is eliminated from the circulatory system, the anatomic areas must be carefully selected for the vascular or soft tissue studies.
A scan of the entire skeletal system is possible; however care should be taken to precede the scan with a complete clinical evaluation so that areas of increased radiopharmaceutical uptake (IRU) can be evaluated in light of the animal’s clinical findings. It is also important to acknowledge that areas of clinical importance may not cause IRU and so may not produce a positive scan. Proximal suspensory desmitis, for instance, persists as one of the clinical conditions with a highly unpredictable response and therefore the bone scan is not always a reliable means of evaluation of this condition without a preceding lameness examination. Specialized scans can provide information on white blood cell accumulation in some areas of infection and have been utilized with good success in the evaluation of persistent orthopedic infections difficult to diagnose by other tests.
This modality is available to all of the large animal species admitted to the hospital, although the horse comprises the vast majority of the patient population. High level athletes, subjected to the rigors of training, are admitted for the diagnosis of stress fractures of the upper limbs and pelvis which are not easily localized with the use of diagnostic anesthesia (nerve blocks). Degenerative changes in the spine are also an example of a condition in which activity on the bone scan can support clinical evaluation.
Animals admitted for scintigraphy must remain in the hospital for a minimum of 24 hours after radiopharmaceutical administration to allow the radioactivity to subside. Nuclear scintigraphy remains one of the most useful ways to provide answers to difficult lameness questions but results must be combined with careful clinical examination.