U. ILLINOIS (US)—New technology is allowing clinicians to perform CT, or CAT scans, on animals without anesthesia in a matter of seconds.
The VetMouseTrap—developed by University of Illinois veterinary radiologist Robert O’Brien—uses the same type of 16-slice scanner found at top-notch human hospitals, with the addition of a special tube-shaped enclosure.
The top half lifts off, like the top of a pet carrier. A small animal is placed inside the chamber, and has room to lie down in a comfortable position, allowing the animal to remain calm and still enough to get the scan done on a high-speed scanner without the need for sedation or anesthesia.
“Although the newer technology of CT scanners provided superior imaging capabilities, all veterinary patients undergoing a CT at the teaching hospital had to first be placed under general anesthesia because they had to remain perfectly still during the several minute-long scan,” he says.
He describes a scenario of a dog or cat arriving at the emergency room in respiratory distress. As clinicians would furiously try to determine the cause of the life-threatening ailment, they needed diagnostic imaging to see what was happening in the lungs.
But anesthetizing an unstable patient can be fatal, says O’Brien. “A CT scan could never be performed on these patients, complicating and prolonging diagnosis and treatment.”
O’Brien originally wanted to develop a device that provided oxygen and allowed the patient to rest while undergoing a CT so they wouldn’t have to anesthetize the patient. “We wanted this device to improve on care of the patient in our emergency room, allow for access to the patient’s IV line and provide continual oxygen support before, during, and after the scan,” he explains.
After a few prototypes, O’Brien came up with the VetMouseTrap. He says the scanner is used nearly every day at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital “now that word has gotten around that we have the ability to do a CT on a critically ill patient without anesthesia.”
The unique design of the VetMouseTrap also allows it to double as a short-term oxygen cage in the emergency room and transport device within the hospital.
O’Brien says he has had numerous universities and private practices expressing an interest in obtaining the device. Production is currently limited to collaborative research, including the University of Glasgow and University of Edinburgh in Scotland and funded research continues on cats in respiratory distress, cats with nasal disease, and small dogs with collapsing tracheal disease.
University of Illinois news: www.aces.uiuc.edu/news