Diagnostic imaging

At the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, radiographic, ultrasonic and computed tomography scans as well as MRI scans are carried out with the help of the best equipment and staff available in Finland.

In imaging, the hospital employs veterinarians specialised in diagnostic imaging and radiographers specialised in veterinary imaging. The Equine Hospital has high-quality X-ray, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging equipment. Computer tomography (CT) scans also are available for small patients weighing under 200 kg.

The Equine Hospital scans inpatients and outpatients as well as referral patients from elsewhere in Finland. X-ray, ultrasound and magnetic resonance scans are usually performed while the horse is standing.

Radiographic examinations

In the case of horses, radiographic examinations are the primary imaging technique for the skeletal system and joints. The most common scanning objects include the foreleg from below the shoulder joint and the back leg from below the knee. Often, the cervical spine, the back and the area of the head are also scanned.

In conjunction with surgeries, X-rays can alternatively be taken with a mobile device in the operating room. To identify any potential sand accumulation, the lower anterior region of the abdominal cavity can be scanned. Chest X-rays can also be taken.At the Equine Hospital, radiography is primarily performed by radiographers specialised in veterinary imaging.

Ultrasonic examinations

The Equine Hospital has high-quality ultrasonic equipment at its disposal. In the case of horses, ultrasonic examinations are broadly used in diagnosing lameness and in the examination of internal organs. The most common targets of scanning include tendon-like structures and various types of soft tissue swelling, but many ultrasonic examinations of the abdominal and thoracic cavities as well as the heart are performed at the Equine Hospital as well. Usually, the site of examination is shaved. As a rule, examinations are performed by the veterinarian in charge of the patient.

MRI scans

The Equine Hospital has at its disposal a ‘foot magnet’, or a low-field MRI device, which enables the examination of the lower parts of the horse’s legs while the animal is standing upright. At this time, this is the only device of its kind in Finland. MRI scans are recommended for further examinations when lameness has been identified in the lower foot and other imaging techniques have not provided a clear diagnosis. MRI scans clearly show any damage to soft tissues, in addition to which internal alterations in the bone are identified. MR imaging is particularly suitable to examining the internal soft tissue structures of the hoof.

The hoof and the fetlock are the most common objects of MRI scans. Additionally, the upper attachment of the suspensory ligament, the knee and the hock can be scanned. During the procedure, the horse is sedated. The scanning of a single site takes approximately 45–60 minutes.