Nuclear Scintigraphy (Bone Scanning)
We designed a purpose built scintigraphy room and installed a gamma camera as part of our facilities at the Brooke Equine Clinic. This is housed alongside two stables specifically as an isolation unit.
Since its installation scintigraphy has proved very useful, in particular:
- In horses or ponies with multilimb lameness for which a work up would prove extremely lengthy and difficult
- Suspected fracture cases as a bone scan is extremely sensitive for these and can pick up hairline fractures where an X-ray may not
- Horses with suspected dental problems. Bone scan will show sites that are currently actively inflamed
- To image parts of the body that are difficult to investigate and X-ray. For example the pelvis and hips
- Animals not suited to using needles in their legs!
A labeled radioactive isotope – Techenetium99 is injected in to the horse. This attaches to sites where bone is remodelling; where bone metabolism is increased there will be an increased amount of isotope attahced. The camera picks up these areas of increased bone turnover as increased radioactive uptake or ‘hot spots’.
If your horse is having a Bone Scan:
We like to have the horse in the day before to allow it to settle in and so that we can start early the following morning. Please bring a few thick rugs and 4 stable bandages and gamgee as we rug and stable bandage the horse overnight to ensure good circulation.
On the day of the bone scan horses are lunged in our arena until warm, fully rugged and bandaged, and then have an intravenous catheter inserted in to the jugular vein.
In cases where lunging is not possible they stand under some heat lamps until warm, this ensures good circulation to all parts of the body, enabling the best possible images.
Once injected with the isotope, the horse remains in the stable for 2 hours prior to starting scanning.
Although a safe procedure, to comply with radiation regulations horses are kept in an isolation stable and allowed to go home approximately 60 hours after injection, or when they are sufficiently un-radioactive.