Digital Radiograph of Arthritic Fetlock Joint
Digital Radiograph of Arthritic Fetlock Joint

Digital X-rays

Digital x-rays will become the standard for equine practce and they have been used in this practice for the past two years. The amount of detail, ability to focus and manipulate an image and the ease of storing and transmitting x-rays electronically have made them superior than the standard x-rays. Being able to diagnose conditions in the feld and to work with farriers and to consult with surgeons within minutes of taking an image alows for a more accurate diagnosis and effective therapeutic plan. For those of you not familiar with this technology, simply think about the benefits of digital photographs or sound. Digital x-rays allow us to take an image in the field and have it displayed on a computer screen within seconds. Images can then be expanded, altered to enhance different aspects of the tissue and analyzed quickly to provide a diagnosis or to complete a purchase exam. Although traditional x-rays are still beneficial, the digital x-rays offer unsurpassed image quality and the ability to diagnose conditions that could remain elusive even with our best techniques.

Once images are taken they can be saved onto a disk for second opinions with purchase exams or to allow a surgeon to evaluate prior to referral. In addition images can be saved as JPEG files for clients to show farriers to aid with a shoeing plan. Since we have a strong interest in working with farriers we expect to be able to supply high quality images that will permit measurements and an ability to effectively monitor various foot conditions.

Digital radiography has rapidly developed in equine medicine, yet it is not offered in all practices. Certainly this is a mainstay in referral centers and we are excited to offer this service either in the field or at our clinic.

Examples of Digital Radiographs

Normal spacing between vertebrae in withers.

The vertical portion of the vertebrae should be evenly spaced as is seen with this normal radiograph of a horse's spine. Compare this with the one below that was taken in the saddle region.

Thoracic vertebrae abutting in saddle region.

As you will see in this radiograph versus the one above it is that the vertebrae are touching or rubbing against one another. This x-ray was taken without the weight of a rider. Once there is weight on the horse's back the problem would be significantly worsened. This is called "Kissing Spine" syndrome.

Normal appearance of a stifle joint. This view was taken from front to back. There is normal joint spacing.
Normal view of a stifle taken from the side. Note smooth joint surfaces and normal triangular shaped patella (knee cap)