Horse-sized scanner for vet school

Elle FarcicThe West Australian

After months of appointments and tests, veterinarians are finally one step closer to fixing Beau the horse's lame leg.

No one has been able to diagnose properly the cause of the injury that has kept the 13-year-old gelding out of competitions for more than a year.

But that all changed recently after Beau became one of the first patients to have a CT scan at Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital.

The hospital's new purpose-built scanner, which cost about $550,000, is the only one in the State big enough for horses.

Senior radiologist David Reese said the machine made it much easier for veterinarians to diagnose certain illnesses and injuries.

"It's an invaluable diagnostic tool and we are quite fortunate to have this in WA," he said.

Beau was anaesthetised in a padded room before being carefully hoisted across a walkway and on to a magnetised table so his forelimb could be examined.

The scan revealed new information that could not be seen in X-rays and ultrasounds, allowing staff to form an appropriate treatment plan for him.

Hospital director Mark Lawrie said the scanner could prevent horses from needing to have invasive procedures such as biopsies during diagnosis.

"It can save a horse's life or it could save an expensive and difficult journey over east to get a scan," he said.

"These new technologies also provide us with a huge opportunity for research."

Researchers have been using the machine to scan cuts of meat, allowing them to look at different breeding techniques and test fat depths.

'It's an invaluable diagnostic tool and we are quite fortunate to have this in WA.' " Senior radiologist *David Reese *

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