The nuclear scintigraphy bone scanning unit has operated at the clinic since the early 90’s and is still considered one of the most useful diagnostic tools available for equine lameness. Over the years, we have notched up over a thousand scans and we are still going strong.
What does it do and is it safe?
The procedure is designed to find areas of inflammation in the skeletal frame. The process, which is very safe and relatively non-invasive, highlights areas of inflammation which helps pinpoint the source of pain or lameness.
How it works?
An injection of radioactive material is injected into the vein. This circulates around the body and becomes concentrated in the areas of the skeleton with increased bone activity (indicating inflammation). A radioactive detection device called a gamma camera is used to build up images of high radioactive uptake. Once the images are complete we are able to use the information to concentrate further diagnostic work such as nerve blocks, radiographs and ultrasound scan in the area highlighted by the scan.
How long does it take?
The patient will spend a minimum of 48 hours in residence at the clinic and the majority of this time will be spent in a specific isolation stable. The examination starts first thing in the morning on day one with a period of exercise on the lunge (depending on the extent of the lameness). Once complete a catheter is inserted into the jugular and the horse is prepared for the procedure. Once the radioactive material is injected into the horse, he or she will be left in isolation for about 3 hours to allow circulation. Following this a series of over 40 pictures will be processed. Day two sees the horse remain in isolation while the pictures are calibrated and examined to determine the next step in diagnosis. Day three the horse is ready to undergo further diagnostics tests. Your horse will return to you at the day with no residual radioactivity so you don’t need to worry about him glowing in the dark.
How much does it cost and will my insurers pay?
Costs are priced out on the time it takes to complete but you can generally say prices start from £900 and can rise to around £1100 + VAT for a full body scan with sedation. We’ll be able to give you a clearer idea of costs once we understand who and what is to be scanned.
Insurance policies all vary and these days it is always advisable to run the question passed your insurers before work is undertaken to avoid any unpleasant surprises. In our experience scintigraphy is considered an acceptable and useful diagnostic procedure by the majority of insurers.