Figure 1: Horse with DRS on board.
This is probably the largest advance in equine veterinary practise in the last 5 years (Figure 1). This is simply put an endoscopic examination of the horses upper airway whilst under race or performing conditions. It allows for a very critical and accurate assessment of your horses airway and removes any ambiguity as to the potential relevance of poor performance attributable to the airway or the possibility of an airway noise (i.e roaring). This “on board” endoscopy is comfortably worn by your horse whilst performing under the saddle and the upper airway recorded using a flexible endoscope and reviewed frame by frame to determine the functionality of the airway to provide air. This equipment has allowed many improvements to be made before and during any surgical procedure to maximise the post-operative success of any procedure. In short the DRS allows us to customize the management or potential surgery of your horses’ airway to give them the best possible result. Dr. Josie Leutton has recently written an article outlining the procedure in more detail and is this is attached as a pdf below.
Nuclear scintigraphy (bone scanning) is an invaluable diagnostic tool in some lameness cases. It is particularly useful in cases where nerve blocks have not revealed the source of the lameness, when other imaging techniques have not shown any abnormalities, or in difficult to image areas such as the pelvis. It is mainly used for imaging bones, although vascular and soft tissue phases are also possible.
The procedure involves injecting the horse with a radioactive dye (technetium 99), which is taken up by areas of increased bone activity. Two hours later a gamma camera is used to detect the radioactive isotope and produce images of the skeleton. It is particularly useful to identify stress fractures and to monitor fracture healing.
If your horse is undergoing scintigraphy, we ask that they arrive no later than 12pm the day before the planned procedure. This is so that a lameness assessment can be performed prior to the scintigraphy scan. The horse is kept in controlled conditions for twenty four hours after the scan due to radiation regulation requirements.
Digital radiography has revolutionised the radiographs we can produce. The superior quality and ability to manipulate the image allows us to assess and diagnose problems that previously would have been missed by plain film. We have highly trained vets and nurses who pride themselves in producing outstanding images.
Portable x-ray machines
We have several portable x-ray machines (Eklin and Provet/Samsung) which enable us to take radiographs at the stall side. This is particularly useful to assess injuries ‘in the field’ if it is considered unsafe to transport the horse, or it may just be more convenient than travelling the horse to the clinic. The digital images produced can be viewed immediately by the vet. The pictures are then uploaded onto a central database allowing them to be read on our dedicated x-ray reading screens at the Randwick clinic.
- Yearling survey and repository radiographs: We have dedicated teams of vets to take yearling series either at the clinic or stud farm. Our specialised veterinarians can also read and assess the images on request. Please contact the clinic for further information.
- Pre-purchase examinations: Radiography can be used as part of pre-purchase examinations either for particular areas of concern or for routine joint surveys.
At REC we have an assigned x-ray room with a powerful ceiling mounted x-ray unit allowing us to take high quality images of the thorax, abdomen, skull, spine and upper limb on large plates.
- Abdominal radiography: Despite the fact the adult equine abdomen can be difficult to image, we can produce excellent pictures which allow us to diagnose some causes of colic such as enteroliths (large stones formed by mineral salts within the intestine), foreign bodies and sand colic.
- Thoracic radiography: Being able to image the thorax can help to diagnose a range of cardiac and pulmonary (lung) diseases, such as thoracic abscesses.
- Skull, spine and upper limb: To image some areas we need higher x-ray factors than our portable machines can produce due to the large amount of surrounding soft tissue (such as the shoulder). To image parts of the pelvis the horse is anaesthetised and x-rays are taken with the horse in dorsal recumbency (on its back).
- Myelograms: To diagnose cervical stenotic myopathy (‘wobbler syndrome’) the horse is anaesthetised and a radiographic dye is injected into the space surrounding the spinal cord. X-rays are then taken of the anaesthetised horse to assess if there is compression of the cord.
Image 1 and 2: digital radiographs of the fetlock (next to one and other).
Image – Thoracic radiograph showing a dorsal caudal lung disease.
Image – Myelogram showing contrast material surrounding spinal column to look for regions of compression (“wobbler” syndrome).
Image – Abdominal radiograph showing two enteroliths causing colic.
Randwick Equine Centre offers ultrasonography (ultrasound scans) both in the field and clinic. This imaging technique is extremely useful for imaging many soft tissue structures. We routinely use ultrasound for the following:
- Tendon and ligament injury assessment
- In colic cases to assess the gastrointestinal tract and other abdominal organs
- In cardiac, pleural and pulmonary (lung) diseases.
- For reproductive scans
- To image the larynx (throat) for additional information in upper airway disease
The clinic offers a state of the art machine with Doppler for cardiovascular assessment. We also have two portable scanners including a specialised reproductive scanner that can be utilized in an ambulatory setting as required.