The availability of digital radiography since the early 2000's has significantly improved the quality of the "X-ray" images we can acquire. It has also allowed routine radiography of areas which were previously almost impossible to get useful images of in the horse (for example abdominal radiography). The superior quality and the ability to manipulate the images allow us to assess and diagnose problems that previously would have been much more difficult to accurately identify. We have highly trained vets and nurses who pride themselves in producing outstanding radiographic images. The digital images can be shared quickly and easily if a specialist or second opinion is appropriate.
Hospital radiography - At the hospital in Randwick we have a designated radiography room with a powerful ceiling mounted digital X-ray generator and both computerised and digital radiography units. This allows us to obtain high quality images of larger, wider and more dense regions of the horse's body such as the shoulder, chest, abdomen, back, neck and pelvis on larger plates to get an adequate field of view. It is usually not possible to achieve diagnostic images of these regions with smaller hand-held or frame mounted X-ray machines.
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 accumulation in the large intestine.
Thoracic radiography: Being able to image the thorax (chest) can help to diagnose a range of cardiac and pulmonary (lung) diseases, such as thoracic abscesses, consolidated lung associated with pneumonia, and pneumothorax (air between the lung and the chest wall - usually from major traumatic injury).
At thoracic radiograph showing dorsal caudal lung disease.
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).
Myelography: Conditions which cause compression of the spine (most commonly cervical stenotic myelopathy - "wobbler syndrome") require myelography for definitive diagnosis. In this technique the horse is anaesthetised and a radio-opaque contrast "dye" is injected into the epidural space surrounding the spinal cord. Images are then taken of the spinal column with the neck in different positions (flexed and extended). Compression is seen when the dye column is obviously narrowed thus identifying and localising the problem area.
Myelogram showing contrast material surrounding spinal column to look for regions of compression (“wobbler” syndrome).
Portable X-ray units
We have several portable X-ray units 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 later uploaded onto a central database and stored electronically, allowing them to be viewed on our dedicated X-ray reading screens at the Randwick hospital. The images can be shared quickly and easily with other clinicians.
Pre-purchase examinations: Radiography can be used as part of pre-purchase examinations either for specific areas of concern identified during the examination or for routine survey of regions which commonly develop problems.