Web Extra

by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 Ph.D. | Photo by Henry Moore Jr.

The exact cause of lameness in horses can sometimes be difficult to find. But thanks to a generous donor, the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s new gamma camera will make diagnosis easier.

“The gamma camera is essential for equine orthopedic lameness,” says Dr. Kelly Farnsworth assistant professor in WSU’s Veterinary Clinical Sciences department. “Localized lameness is difficult to radiograph.”

The gamma camera, or nuclear scintigraphy machine, is a diagnostic tool that can locate fractures often not found using standard radiography, or x-rays. The machine can detect abnormal spots of increased activity on bone known as “hot spots.”

While radiography, or x-rays, can take pictures of bone, the gamma camera can find bone turnover-old bone breaking down and new bone forming. By using radionuclides, or tracers, veterinarians can see abnormal spots of increased activity, or hot spots, on the bone.

“We use it to localize or confirm sites of lameness,” says Dr. Farnsworth. “We’ve also been able to detect tumors not found on radiographs.”

The gamma camera is just part of the full-service equine diagnostics at WSU. “We get a lot of horses looked at by other people and we can offer additional diagnostic tests,” says Dr. Farnsworth. “Most places don’t have gamma cameras, MRIs, or CTs so we can offer those services to people in our region.”