Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - WORLD -

Scooby is 15 years old. He’s a chest­nut-col­ored Ger­man warm­blood horse. His spe­cialty is dres­sage. He’s an ex­pert in show rid­ing. But when he be­gan limp­ing in March, no one at first knew where the trou­ble was.

In April, UC-Davis vet­eri­nar­i­ans hoisted all 1,300 pounds of him onto an ex­am­in­ing ta­ble and placed tubes for oxy­gen and anes­the­sia gas in his mouth. His right hind leg poked though a wide cir­cu­lar tube in a positron emis­sion to­mog­ra­phy, or PET, scan­ner. UC Davis was the first vet­eri­nary med­i­cal hospi­tal any­where to use such a ma­chine on horses.

By in­ject­ing the leg with a weak dose of a ra­dioac­tive sub­stance that at­taches to ar­eas of ab­nor­mal bone, the vet­eri­nar­i­ans were able to see de­tailed images of Scooby’s in­jury.

“This can de­tect le­sions missed by MRI and CT scans, which could pre­vent cat­a­strophic break­downs in race­horses,” said Dr. Mathieu Spriet, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of sur­gi­cal and ra­di­o­log­i­cal sciences. And the low-level ra­di­a­tion doesn’t hurt the horse.

Scooby’s scans found a small crack that led to in­flam­ma­tion nearby. Af­ter months of med­i­ca­tion and rest, Spriet said, he is back to be­ing rid­den at a walk and trot pace and ap­pears to be on the right track.

Laura Budd with Scooby dur­ing a PET scan at UC Davis, the only hospi­tal that does PET scans on horses.

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