CT imaging is playing an increasing role in the assessment of head problems in horses – review

CT imaging is an excellent technique for assessing the head in horses and can provide good anatomical understanding of a wide range of lesions, the researchers report. (File Image)

The growing role of CT imaging in the assessment of head problems in horses is discussed in a recently published review.

Susanne Stieger-Vanegas and Ashley Hanna, writing in the Frontiers in Veterinary Science newspaper, noted that diseases affecting the head of horses are common.

Head X-rays provide good spatial resolution in equine patients, they said, but identifying lesions on these X-rays can be difficult. Subtle lesions may even go unnoticed.

“In cases where physical examination, X-ray and endoscopy do not provide enough information, or there is an incomplete or no response to treatment, additional diagnostic imaging methods are often considered.

“The equine head is an anatomically and spatially very complex structure, and cross-sectional imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance tomography (MRI) are useful in eliminating overlapping anatomical structures.”

While MRI is generally preferred for evaluating the brain and spinal cord, CT scanning is often the method of choice for evaluating bones or air-filled structures.

CT scans of the head in equine patients are now commonplace as CT scans are more readily available, they noted.

It is, they said, an excellent technique for assessing the head and can provide good anatomical understanding of a wide range of lesions.

“Head CT has proven extremely valuable in the evaluation of dental and paranasal sinus disease, disease of the hyoid apparatus and ear, and in the evaluation of head trauma.”

It is excellent for evaluating bony and soft tissue structures. However, assessment of complex vascular anatomy and determination of tissue viability is limited without the use of contrast agents. Therefore, various contrast agent protocols have been established.

“CT images of the head are most often evaluated in transverse planes. However, standard multiplanar reconstructions of the head, including dorsal and parasagittal planes, improve understanding of spatially complex disease processes.

These reconstructions can be crucial in accurately identifying diseased teeth and determining the extent and severity of bone damage. [bone] and paranasal sinus disease.

CT scans of the head are becoming an increasingly important diagnostic tool for head disorders, they said, with the results becoming an important part of the clinical decision-making process.

“Furthermore, it has great value in planning interventional procedures and removing masses occurring on the head,” the couple wrote.

CT scans can eliminate the need for other diagnostic imaging studies, especially when CT scans can be performed on standing horses.

“The ability to perform thin slices and multiplanar reconstructions of the head may help more accurately assess head pathologies, especially in patients with head trauma, ear disease, or dental abnormalities.”

Stieger-Vanegas works in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University. Ashley Hanna works at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Stieger-Vanegas SM and Hanna AL (2022) The role of computed tomography in the imaging of non-neurological head disorders in equine patients. Before. Veterinary. Sci. 9:798216. do I: 10.3389/fvets.2022.798216

The review, published under a Creative Commons Licensecan be read here.

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