Scintigraphy is an imaging examination method. This is used if other examination methods such as X-ray, ultrasound, blood tests or CT scan do not provide enough information to be able to make a diagnosis. With scintigraphy of the skeleton, for example, osteoarthritis, bone fractures, inflammations and tumours can be detected.
For a scintigraphy, an injection is given with a radioactive fluid. This substance binds to tissues in the body for a very short time. After some time, the radiation that is ‘transmitted’ by the radioactive substance is converted into images by a ‘gamma camera’. The tissue where there is a deviation shows the strongest bond, or an increased ‘uptake’.
How does scintigraphy work?
First, an IV is set up for the animal. The radioactive substance is administered with a syringe via this infusion. The radioactive material enters the desired organs through the bloodstream. The exposure time differs per examination. For a bone scan, for example, it is 2-3 hours; for a thyroid scan, only a few minutes.
The animals are then placed on a table above which the gamma camera hangs. Scintigraphy is used extensively with companion animals in case of lameness of unknown origin. But it is also used for thyroid problems, liver shunts and the assessment of kidney function.
The horse is sedated, and the scan is made around the standing horse. Our gamma camera is specially made for this. Scintigraphy is primarily used to visualize lameness of unknown origin. But it is also used if resistance to riding originates in the back. This is because this area is difficult to reach with X-rays. With scintigraphy, disorders here can also be diagnosed earlier. Dental problems also come to light more quickly with scintigraphy.
Picture after a scintigraphy
The amount of radiation that the animals receive for a scintigraphy is not dangerous. It is comparable to the amount from an x-ray. The radioactive substance passes from the body with the urine. During the first 24 hours after the scan, the companion animals are cared for in a special radiation area. For horses, this is for 48 hours. After this period, the animals may go home again, with a number of rules for the first day at home.
Patients referred by another vet for scintigraphy can only receive the referred treatment, unless we have permission from your own veterinarian.