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Gamma Scintigraphy (Bone Scan)

Prior to the Appointment

Nerve and joint blocks can potentially interfere with the normal distribution of radiopharmaceutical through all phases (soft tissue and bone) of the bone scan. Therefore, we prefer to wait at least 4 days after nerve or joint blocks have been performed prior to bone scan. It is also critical that we know what sites (if any) on the horse have been blocked by the RDVM in the three weeks before the scan.

Image quality and diagnostic quality of the scan for subtle lesions are improved if the horse can be exercised prior to the scheduled appointment. Ideally, the horse should be lunged at the trot for 10-15 minutes each day for 7-10 days. However, if degree of lameness or suspected cause of lameness precludes this or would risk exacerbation of the injury, then this should be modified appropriately. If possible, 10-15 minutes of hand-walking will help. The RDVM should use their best judgment when recommending activity level prior to bone scan, and should contact the Equine Outpatient Imaging Service directly if there are any questions. If there are any doubts as to whether exercise would be injurious, DO NOT exercise the horse.

If a fore-limb scan is scheduled, we prefer that front shoes be removed prior to admission to the VH. If this is not possible, then a nominal fee will be charged for removing horseshoes. Following imaging, the hooves will be protected with duct tape or similar. Re-application of the horseshoes shall be the owner's responsibility. For gaited show horses and other patients with extensive or complex farrier requirements, it is the client's responsibility to make arrangements to have an experienced farrier present during the appointment to assist with removal and re-application of the horseshoes.

Appointments are available Monday through Thursday. Patient information and Order forms should be completed, and faxed or emailed to the Equine Outpatient Imaging Service before noon on the last business day before the scan day (i.e. Friday for a scan appointment on Monday).

On the Day of the Appointment

Horses should arrive between 8:00-8:30AM. If a horse does not arrive by 9:15AM, the scan will be cancelled and a $80 cancellation fee will apply. Clients will have the option of dropping the horse off the night before the appointment; an additional night's board will be charged for this service. A basic physical examination of the horse will be conducted by an experienced equine clinician. The purpose of this examination is to assess patient health prior to imaging and sedation. The charge for this examination is $80 and will be billed with other charges.

Horses will have a short term intravenous catheter placed into the jugular vein for injection of the radiopharmaceutical and for sedation purposes. Horses will then be walked or lunged for 15 minutes prior to injection. All imaging will be performed by members of the VH Radiology Service. The equine outpatient imaging clinician will be available during the imaging examination, as needed. Vascular and Soft Tissue phases will be acquired immediately after injection, if required. The horse will then be returned to the stall and bone phase images will be acquired later in the afternoon.

Horses will stay in the VH overnight after the scan, and will be released to the owner the following morning sometime between 9:00-11:00AM, depending on how fast the horse's radioactivity level returns to normal. The client will be contacted when the horse has been cleared for release from the hospital.


The RDVM can choose to receive either a verbal report or a written report of the radiographic findings: