If you’ve ever been (un)lucky enough to experience the human version of a CT scan or MRI, then you probably know the drill: very tight spaces, no movement, super loud clicking noises. In other words, one heck of a time. So it’s no wonder that for horses undergoing the same time of medical imaging procedures, general anesthesia is a prerequisite—until now.
Recently, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine partnered with the imaging technology company 4DDI to create EQUIMAGINE, a robot-driven scanner that can take high-resolution medical images on a standing equine patient. The great news? The new technology not only reduces the risk, expense, and time constraints inherent with general anesthesia, it offers vets a glimpse at elements of the horse’s anatomy they’ve never seen before.
In addition to 2-dimensional CT images, EQUIMAGINE can take moving (fluoroscopic) images, 3-D images, and high-speed radiographs capturing up to 16,000 frames per second. Eventually, researchers hope, the technology will provide a window into historically tricky conditions such as stress fractures in Thoroughbred racehorses, which are difficult to diagnose and can lead to catastrophic injuries on the track.
The technology may also open doors for human patients and children who, like horses, often struggle to stay still long enough for medical imaging tools to be effective.