Revolutionary, and ready to launch, a new robotics-controlled imaging system is unlike any other type of equine diagnostic equipment, according to veterinarians at Penn Vet. The Equimagine at New Bolton Center captures high quality diagnostic images, including the three-dimensional, even when equine patients are moving.
The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine says the system is capable of capturing a horse’s anatomy in a way never before possible – while the horse is awake and load-bearing. Existing computed tomography systems, used to obtain a CT scan, usually require the horse to be anesthetized. They are also limiting because only the parts of the animal that fit into the cylindrical machines can be scanned.
That is a thing of the past, due to the system’s robotic arms that make their way around the horse’s body. The device can scan any part of the horse. The powerful imaging collects CT images and three-dimensional scans. The latter takes less than a minute.
The imaging system also produces 360-degree digital radiographs and captures fluoroscopic images at up to 16,000 frames per second. Penn Vet experts say the quality and resolution of the real-time images created with the Equimagine system far exceeds existing technology.
And many specialists at New Bolton Center will be able to take advantage of the technology, including those in surgery, sports medicine, neurology, cardiovascular medicine, and internal medicine.
Dr. Dean Richardson, Chief of Surgery at New Bolton Center, is providing surgical expertise for the further refinement of the new system. He is an expert in the treatment of horses with serious fractures. “Three-dimensional imaging provides the opportunity to be more precise in our treatments. That’s a big step forward,” Dr. Richardson said. “The goal in veterinary and human medicine is to provide less invasive and more precise surgical procedures.”
The images from the new system are much more detailed, Dr. Richardson said, and can help to identify not only a fracture, but also its specific characteristics: location, depth, and breadth. He expects the new technology will help prevent injuries, especially in racehorses, by allowing early detection of fractures.
“We have a lot to learn about this technology,” Dr. Richardson said. “Three-dimensional imaging opens new doors to diagnosis and treatments. We are very excited to be on the forefront of those discoveries.”
Penn Vet is the first veterinary teaching hospital in the world to use the technology, which has clinical and research applications for not only equines, but also humans.
The ability to obtain high-quality images of a joint in motion, or the spine, could open up vast possibilities of discovery in the areas of diagnosis, treatment, and medical product development, New Bolton’s team says. In pediatric patients, it would allow imaging of a child while awake and reading a book, rather than under general anesthesia or restrained.
“We think the system is not only beneficial to horses, but also will have translational benefits for people,” said Dr. Barbara Dallap Schaer, Medical Director of New Bolton Center. “This effort is a collaboration,” Dr. Dallap Schaer said. “We are trying to bring together all of our strengths at Penn to be truly transformational.”