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How horses are prepared for Scintigraphy

March 21, 2023

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Here at Camden Equine Centre, we are fortunate enough to have the leading brand of scintigraphy equipment. The Scintron MiE system has superior images quality, shorter acquisition times, and amazing motion control software which prevents repeat acquisitions.

Scintigraphy is a screening modality used to identify regions of bony change after injection with a radioactive isotope. The scintigraphy procedure at CEC includes a pre-exam trot-up if requested, all hospitalisation (twice daily check-up), feed (twice daily hay and hard feed) for three days, post-scintigraphy x-rays with specialist review and recommendations for rehabilitation.

Preparing the horse for scintigraphy is integral to getting superior image quality. If any of the steps are done incorrectly or not at all, image acquisition is compromised and making a diagnosis or plan post-scintigraphy can be difficult.

1. Horse arrives at the clinic the day before the procedure:

· The radioactive isotope is calibrated based on the horse’s weight and ordered the day before the procedure

· The isotope is calibrated for a specific time. If we miss the injection time the strength of the isotope deteriorates and affects the quality of the images

· Pre-exam trot-up if requested


2. A catheter is placed:

· This ensures that sedation and isotope go into the vein. If a catheter is not used, we risk injecting around the vein and the isotope sitting at the injection site rather than being taken up into the bone.

· Reduces the number of times the patient needs to be injected with a needle for sedation.


3. Lower limbs are bandaged, and boots placed on horse’s feet:

· The isotope is excreted via the urine. If the horse urinates and steps in it, its feet are contaminated and will create a false “hotspot”. The same goes if the horse manages to urinate on its legs.

· Prevents “cold limb” syndrome, where the uptake of isotope is limited in the lower limbs because the legs are cold.

· Lunging where indicated – isotope uptake is much better in a warm horse, particularly the older, chunkier variety.


4. Post-injection and post-scintigraphy:

· Horses are radioactive for 24 hours after injection and must be kept away from the general population during that period. We have specially designed lead-lined stables where patients can be comfortably stabled and monitored without compromising safety.


5. Follow-up radiographs:

· Along with hospitalisation and feeding, X-rays are included in the price!

· Specialists interpret the images and make recommendations for rehabilitation or further treatment.

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