Now your dog (or cat) can get a CAT scan

Another first for South Africa.  First, the inventor of the world famous CT scanner is a South African, and now we have the pleasure to introduce this fantastic technology to our ailing pets, by a local veterinary hospital who has lead the way in imaging diagnosis.

PRETORIA – AUGUST 2018 - Valley Farm Animal Hospital in Faerie Glen, Pretoria, recently installed a multi-million Rand, 16-slice computed tomography (CT) machine, the first in the country for veterinary work.

A CT scan is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure using specialized X-ray equipment to produce cross-sectional images of the body. The CT was developed independently by British engineer Sir Godfrey Hounsfield, and Dr Alan Cormack. Dr Cormack was born in Johannesburg in 1924 and raised in Cape Town where he went to school and university. He later moved to the USA. Sir Godfrey and Dr Cormack were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in 1979 for their work in developing this machine.

Valley Farm Animal Hospital partners Dr Tim Krafft and Dr Dean De Kock say, “We are thrilled to make this technology available to pet owners in Gauteng. This is a big step forward for veterinary diagnostics and something we believe will be of great benefit for the treatment of our patients.

Dr Charmaine Verloop, the veterinarian in charge of the CT machine, explains that each cross-sectional image of a CT scan represents a ‘slice’ of the animal being scanned. The main advantage of this is that, unlike routine X-ray procedures, there is no superimposition of body structures. This makes it a very accurate diagnostic tool.

“It is a very quick procedure which is done under sedation or general anaesthesia and total time spent in the CT room is usually not much longer than 15 minutes. The cross-sectional images are then reformatted into different planes as well as volume rendered images to improve diagnostic accuracy,” says Dr Verloop.

According to Dr Verloop there are multiple indications where a CT scan would be the preferred diagnostic choice for a pet. These include the evaluation of the extent of trauma induced pathology, the diagnosis of a variety of diseases and orthopaedic conditions, as well as congenital and developmental abnormalities.

“It is particularly useful in cancer evaluation and prognostication to look for tumour spread as well as to assess response to treatment,” she says.

Expert Analysis

Dr Verloop says the most important element of having the machine is understanding the data it produces. For this reason, the Valley Farm Animal Hospital called in the services of Prof Robert Kirberger, a South African and European registered specialist radiologist to assist. He joined the Valley Farm veterinary team as a consultant.

Prof Kirberger worked for 30 years at the University of Pretoria’s Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital as an academic radiologist who has written numerous radiology and CT articles, he also headed up the Hip and Elbow dysplasia panel for many years. He authored two textbooks in the veterinary diagnostic imaging field. 

“Prof Kirberger’s involvement ensures our staff are well trained in working the CT machine, that it is used optimally, and that the diagnostic interpretation of the images are of the highest standard. This means the vet treating your pet, and who referred the pet to Valley Farm Animal Hospital for the CT scan, will gain the maximum amount of available diagnostic information from the procedure,” concludes Dr Verloop.

About Valley Farm Animal Hospital 24-hour Specialist Referral Centre

Valley Farm Animal Hospital in Faerie Glen, Pretoria, is one of the biggest veterinary practices in South Africa. In addition to general veterinary care, the practice offers a 24-hour on-site veterinary team for emergencies and in-patient monitoring. Valley Farm GP veterinarians are supported by specialists in medicine, surgery, anaesthesia and radiography.

Valley Farm Animal Hospital provides Pretoria East pet owners with veterinary care, pet grooming and a well-stocked on-site shop. They also provide pet owners from all over South Africa with specialist care for their pets which are referred to the hospital. The practice offers world-class facilities which are used to aid full diagnostic work-ups, and to operate and treat sick patients. Additional services include stem cell therapy for arthritic pets, dentistry, physiotherapy and acupuncture.

For more information on Valley Farm, please visit www.valleyfarmvet.co.za.

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