SATH scanner

From turtles and Komodo dragons to antique bowling balls and witches’ bottles, the CT scanner at the Small Animal Teaching Hospital (SATH) has been used to investigate some extraordinary items in its three-year history.  

Fraser McConnell, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging, said: “At the time it was installed, the SATH was the only vet hospital in the UK with onsite MRI and CT scanners. Today it is still one of the best-equipped veterinary hospitals in the country. It was introduced in the hospital in March 2007 and we completed our 1000th scan in March 2010.”

The equipment is obviously mainly for scanning animals, but because it’s available to all researchers across the University it’s had some pretty unusual uses.

The strangest animals to be scanned so far include an Annam Leaf Turtle and a Komodo dragon, which was scanned post mortem.  Other animals such as dead gorillas, chimpanzees, orang-utan, gibbon and emus have also been scanned for the University’s Primate Evolution & Morphology Group, as part of studies on locomotion.

But it’s not just animals that need scanning; an antique bowling ball was one of the stranger items to be brought to the scanner in order to assess its internal structure. On another occasion a witches’ bottle was scanned to determine its contents without having to open it.

CT (computerised tomography) scanning is a special form of x-ray that is generally used to produce cross-sectional images of patients. It enables internal examination of patients without the need for aggressive surgery and, due to its speed, patients can often be scanned under sedation.

 “CT is particularly useful for imaging the joints, nose and ears of patients, as there is a much higher accuracy compared to radiography due to lack of superimposition,” said Fraser. “We also use CT for planning of radiotherapy treatment for our oncology patients, because this increased accuracy helps to minimise damage to non-cancerous tissues.

“In larger patients, we use the technology for imaging the abdomen, as it produces better image quality than ultrasound and it is much more sensitive than radiography for detecting lung tumours and in characterising thoracic pathology. It really is an invaluable piece of equipment.”

The four slice, helical CT scanner is available to researchers across the University. To find out more or to discuss specific requirements, contact Fraser email or call 56218.

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