CT for Diagnosing Lung Disease in Foals

Veterinarians are taking a page from human medicine books by using CT to evaluate pulmonary disease in foals.
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Equine veterinarians are taking a page from human medicine books as they begin examining applications for computed tomography (CT) in evaluating pulmonary disease in foals. Kara M. Lascola, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine, described related research and potential challenges at the 2013 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, held June 12-15 in Seattle, Wash.

Computed tomography is an imaging method that creates a cross-sectional and detailed picture of structures inside the body using a series of radiographs (X rays). Lascola explained that CT is the preferred imaging modality for numerous human pulmonary problems, including emphysema, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and airway disease. Currently, veterinarians typically employ radiography to evaluate equine lungs for disease; however, CT images’ higher resolution makes it easier to identify pathologic processes, she said.

"Current CT imaging technology allows for whole lung imaging within seconds and provides very high quality resolution, allowing for more accurate anatomic and morphologic characterization of all components of the lung," she explained.

Pulmonary disease is a significant cause of illness and death in young foals, she said, which "highlights the need for species- and age-specific characterization of normal lung CT morphology in addition to disease characterization." And although this modality has been widely described in dogs and cats, there’s just one published report—a case study—describing the use of thoracic CT in an older foal, Lascola relayed

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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