Why is my horse having nuclear scintigraphy imaging? 

Nuclear scintigraphy or bone scan is used to detect soft tissue and bone abnormalities in the horse. Images are captured of the horse's skeleton using a gamma camera that detects a benign radioactive isotope given intravenously. The radioactive isotope travels to bone and abnormal uptake is then detected as a hot or cold spot. The areas of increased isotope uptake indicate sites of disease. 

How does nuclear scintigraphy work?

A nuclear isotope, Technetium 99m MDP, is injected into the horse through a temporary catheter placed in the jugular vein. The isotope takes two hours to gain full uptake in the bones of the horse. The nuclear medicine technicians start the scanning process two hours after injection time. 

Why should my horse arrive one day prior to imaging?

To ensure optimal diagnostic images, the patient must be kept indoors and warm during the night prior to imaging. During the winter months, a blanket and stable wraps are applied to ensure a higher body temperature. A warm horse will have a better uptake of isotope, which in turn will provide better images during the scanning process. The isotope must also be injected promptly at the scheduled time the following morning.

Can I bring my horse's own feed?

Yes! If your horse is used to specific grain, supplements or hay, you are welcome to bring enough feed for 2-3 feedings. Please provide clear instructions alongside the feed. We are NOT permitted to accept or give medications provided by owners. Inform the front desk if your horse is currently on any kind of medication and arrangements will be made to provide it to your horse during hospitalization. The EMC is also equipped with a HayGain hay steamer should your horse need steamed forage.

The EMC can provide the following feeds to your horse at no extra cost to you: alfalfa cubes/alfalfa hay/alfalfa pellets/grass hay/bran/Dengie/Nutrena Fibergized/Purina® Ultium®/Lucerne Farms: Hi Fiber or Hi Fiber Gold/Triple Crown: Equine Senior or Safe Starch.

How is my horse sedated? 

During the scanning process, technicians use a two inch temporary catheter. EMC technicians use acepromazine, xylazine, detomidine and butorphanol to keep the patient in an even level of sedation for minimal motion during the image capture process to ensure optimal diagnostic images. 

How are sedation levels monitored?

EMC technicians are trained to sedate in a way that keeps the patient in a level state of sedation. This process varies from patient to patient, and the managing clinician is kept informed of any changes or challenges that occur during the sedation process. The technicians are provided with upper limits of the different sedatives in order to limit side effects from the sedation. Patients are given breaks throughout the scanning process to allow them to rest and relieve themselves appropriately. 

How long does a bone scan take?

The initial injection and soft tissue scans (if applicable) take 30-40 minutes to complete. After the two hour window, the complete scanning process will take 2-4 hours to complete. This will depend on the number of scans needed to be aquired, how the horse reacts to sedation and if the horse needs to have a break to relieve themselves.

How long is my horse considered radioactive?

The patient is generally released 24 hours after the isotope injection time. However, when the horse is scanned out, and is scanned at a level that is above acceptable limits, they will remain in the "hot" stall until their radioactivity level is suitable for release from the radioactive stall. 

Does this mean that all of my horses items are radioactive as well?

All personal belongings of the patient, including blankets, wraps, halters and lead ropes are removed prior to injection time to ensure the safety of the patient and client after the patients is released from the hospital. The EMC has halters, leadropes, wraps and blankets that are cleaned and disinfected between patients for use during nuclear scintigraphy.

What time can I expect to pick up my horse?

Horses that are not expected to stay for additional diagnostics can be picked up between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. the day following the scan. Patients staying for additional diagnostics and treatment will likely stay the remainder of the day following the day of the scan. 

When can I expect to receive a radiology report?

After the scan is completed, the images are sent to a board certified radiologist for review. The reports are generally returned in 1-2 business days. Once the report has been received, it will be sent to you and your veterinarian. If the patient is staying at the EMC to receive further treatment pending radiology results, the clinician assigned to your horse will review the report and consult with you and your veterinarian on the most appropriate diagnosis and therapeutic strategies.