Since 2004, nuclear medicine has been an important diagnostic tool used at Animal Imaging in the diagnosis of lameness in the horse. The basic principal of nuclear scintigraphy is the detection of gamma rays emitted from the decay of a radionuclide injected intravenously into the patient with a gamma camera. Bone that is stressed or remodeling due to an injury that affects the metabolism of bone will absorb a disproportion amount of the radiopharmaceutical. This will then appear as an area of increased radiopharmaceutical uptake, or a “hot spot”, on the gamma camera. Any area of uptake represents a physiologic change in bone that may need further evaluation.

At Animal Imaging, we can scan the front half, back half, entire horse, or a specific region of interest. Region of interest exams include the acquisition of less than 10 images.

An extremely important aspect of scintigraphy is the post-evaluation lameness exam. These results are communicated to the referring veterinarian and a diagnostic and/or treatment plan is then developed.

Indications for nuclear medicine in the horse include the following:
• Poor performance, or an ill-defined cause of lameness
• Suspected cervical, thoracolumbar and/or pelvic region pain
• An intermittent and/or subtle lameness that cannot be reliably reproduced to perform effective local anesthesia
• Lameness in multiple limbs
• An obvious lameness that cannot be localized to a specific region
• Collaboration of an equivocal radiographic abnormality to help determine its clinical significance
• An acute lameness with a clinical suspicion of a fracture or stress related bone injury that cannot be identified radiographically
• Monitoring convalescence of previously diagnosed bone injury
• An athletic horse with a history of lameness at high speed or during work, which is not evident in hand

Reports will be generated by Dr. Sharp and /or Dr. Hersman and our equine radiologists within 24 – 48 hours of the study. Our Equine Board-Certified Radiologists, Dana Neelis DVM MS DACVR and Beth Biscoe DVM MS DACVR, have extensive training in this diagnostic modality.

For more information regarding Equine Nuclear Medicine, click here.
For our Equine Nuclear Medicine Referral Form, click here.