At Alamo Pintado we employ the latest and most advanced in equine diagnostic imaging technology available. The various modalities that we offer can be used individually or combined to provide a superb insight to the possible source of lameness or pain. Please follow the links below to explore how we apply this cutting-edge technology at Alamo Pintado.
- Traditional Radiography
- Digital Radiography
- Nuclear Scintigraphy (Bone Scan)
- Computer Aided Tomography (CAT Scan)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
The use of traditional radiography has long been the standard in equine diagnostic imaging. The portable design and durability of the equipment has allowed it to become a “staple” of almost every equine veterinary practice the world over. At Alamo Pintado we have two portable radiography units that regularly accompany our field veterinarians during their routine farm calls. With these, our veterinarians can obtain high-quality images of the equine limbs at the client’s ranch, eliminating the need to bring their horse to the clinic.
However, in certain cases the area of interest is beyond the imaging capabilities of our portable units. For these situations we are equipped with a Siemmens 1000 mA, wall-mounted unit in our radiology department. This machine, the same model featured at universities and veterinary schools around the country, is mounted on a specially designed track that allows us to maneuver the camera to virtually any position in order to image any area of the equine body while minimizing any discomfort or stress to our patient.
Once the radiographs have been taken, our automatic film processor will develop the image and within two minutes the process is completed, thus minimizing the time our clients have to wait for the diagnosis. The radiographic capabilities of our equipment allow us to manage everything from pre-sale yearling repository radiographs, to high detail myelograms, to abdominal radiographs in our colic patients in an efficient manner.
Two distinct digital radiographic techniques are now available at Alamo Pintado. The newest edition is the all digital Eklin EDR3 RapidStudy radiography unit. With this unit, high detail, all digital images are captured instantly. The images appear automatically on a computer screen for analysis and transferred to a radiographic monitor for evaluation and diagnosis. This unit allows for instantaneous evaluation and provides increased diagnostic ability impossible a few years ago. This unprecedented level of detail and versatility has allowed us to enhance the speed in which we can process each radiology appointment and has tremendously reduced the amount of wasted film by eliminating retakes and has improved the quality of the complete evaluation of each individual patient.
The second modality available is computerized radiography utilizing the Fuji computerized radiography system. With this unit, there is no film to process. The images are recorded on “Smart Cassettes” which can be used with our regular radiograph machines. Once the radiograph is taken, the cassette is inserted into a digital processor. When the computer terminal displays the image, the operator can perform minor adjustments for technique and clarity.
Both techniques are complimentary to eaach other and both provide fast, accurate, highly detailed imaging, that provides for a quicker, more complete evaluation of the equine patient.
The versatility and flexibility of both our fluoroscopic units provide has made them an invaluable aid in our day-to-day diagnostic operation. A fluoroscope is a portable, real-time radiographic unit. It consists of a flexible arm, which produces and receives the x-rays, and a processor with a screen to display the image. It lacks the detail of our traditional radiology but more than compensates for it by it’s portable design and the real-time imaging it provides. One of these units resides in our treatment room, used among other things, to accurately follow needle placement into the joints of the equine limb. This allows us to be certain that the prescribed treatment will be delivered accurately and with minimal complications into the desired joint space.
The second unit resides in our operating theater. Mainly used during the course of orthopedic procedures, it gives us immediate, real-time radiographic views of the position of the implants or other equipment at the surgery site without having to rely on traditional radiography. This reduces significantly the time under anesthesia since there is no delay before the image is visible.
The science behind the ultrasound machine relies on the different tissue densities that skin, ligaments, muscles and bone naturally have. As the ultrasound wave travels from the probe through the skin, it starts bouncing back at different intensities depending on the tissues it encounters. The probe then receives these waves and the computer processes the images, which are then viewed on a screen. At Alamo Pintado, we have several units that are small enough to go out on field calls with our veterinary staff. These are particularly good for reproductive tract evaluation, determination of stage in reproductive cycle and confirming a pregnancy.
We have a larger, more capable machine that resides in our treatment room. This machine is more powerful and has a variety of probes that enable the veterinarian to select the frequency of the sound waves as well as the depth of penetration into the body. This allows us to conduct abdominal, cardiac and thoracic evaluation of our patients and with a simple switch, perform a high-detail study of the tendons and ligaments of the distal limb. These machines have enhanced the diagnostic capabilities of our staff in cases as different as intestinal colics, heart conditions, respiratory problems, torn ligaments and transabdominal reproductive evaluations.
This imaging modality, known colloquially as bone scans, has been used at our facility for twenty years. Alamo Pintado was the first private equine clinic in the United States to install and use nuclear scintigraphy in 1989. Since then we have performed over 3,000 scintigraphic studies on virtually every type of horse breed and use. These scans are done with the patient fully awake, though sedated to ensure the safety of our patient and equipment. It takes approximately four to five hours to complete a study; however, we recommend that we keep the patient hospitalized overnight to reduce the radiation exposure to our clients.
Typically done as an ancillary aid in lameness diagnostics, bone scans offer a “physiologic” image versus radiography, ultrasound and CAT scan, which offer an “anatomic” image. This means that we can evaluate where the ligaments and bone have suffered damage by the increased concentration of the radioactive material in those areas.This allows us to diagnose obscure lameness conditions such as early stress fractures, navicular bone inflammation, stressed ligaments, active arthritis in any of the joints and a myriad of other conditions that cause pain and lameness. It also allows us to differentiate between active, painful arthritic lesions and older, quiescent lesions, which should not be a source of pain.
COMPUTER AIDED TOMOGRAPHY
Alamo Pintado is one of the few equine clinics in the country that has the ability to incorporate a mobile CAT Scan unit into our surgical facility. This gives unprecedented intra-operative imaging capabilities that would otherwise be simply unattainable. A CAT Scan is a rotating, focused x-ray beam that takes “sliced” images of the patient. Once used in a human hospital, our CAT Scan can safely image the equine limbs distal to the knees and hocks as well as the equine head up to the neck. It has been invaluable in evaluating the extent of long bone fractures, the severity of joint disease, the accuracy of fracture fixation, and a number of other uses within our surgery room. It has also been essential in determining the causes of “head-shakers” and other behavioral problems by providing us with cross-sectional views of the sinuses, tooth roots, temporo-madibular joint, skull anatomy, guttural pouches and even the brain of the horse.
Below is an image of our CAT Scan.