Ultrasound is a diagnostic technology that uses sound waves to create images of soft tissues—such as ligaments, tendons, muscles and internal organs—that radiographs (X-rays) can’t capture. Now, ultrasound diagnostics have taken a stride forward in the horse world, with the Toshiba Aplio i800 machine. The University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center is the first veterinary hospital to own the equipment, which creates images with higher resolution and more detail than has ever before been possible.
In one of the machine’s early trials, it was able to detect a tear only millimeters long in a horse’s joint capsule. With it, veterinarians will be able to examine blood flow in tiny blood vessels that wouldn’t be visible using traditional ultrasound technology.
“We’re entering a whole new generation of image clarity and detail,” says Virginia Reef, DVM, chief of New Bolton’s section of imaging. “With this kind of resolution, we are more likely to come up with more specific diagnoses for our patients. We can see deeper into the abdomen than ever before. It may even be more sensitive to the stage of tendon injury and repair.”
Along with its diagnostic capabilities, which include 3D ultrasound, the new machine has the potential to be a useful teaching tool and should also have applications in research.
“Human hospitals don’t even have this yet,” notes Dr. Reef. “This is truly the latest technology on the market.”
This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.