Addition of Fluoroscopy C-arm Imaging System Expands Procedures in Multiple Services

By Sarah Freeman

It is rare that one piece of equipment holds multiple benefits for so many medical procedures, but that is the just the case with the new mobile fluoroscopy imaging system (nicknamed the “C-arm” due to its shape) that the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital acquired last spring. The benefits for expanded services in radiology, soft tissue surgery and cardiology services (see the article “At the Heart of the Matter”), among others, are significant.

“We bought this system with the idea of answering everyone in the hospital’s needs,” explains Shannon Holmes, DVM, MSc, DACVR. “It’s the kind of equipment that’s used by a huge number of people in the hospital. ”

The broadest use of the C-Arm is in minimally-invasive surgeries and procedures, but it is also very beneficial in dynamic diagnostic studies of respiration, swallowing and urination. The (Insert brand name here) is a state of the art piece of equipment and is identical to equipment used in human hospitals. The advantages over older equipment include a dramatic enhancement of resolution for imaging of small structures and “road mapping” abilities. Road mapping technology digitally removes the background and corrects for cardiac and respiratory movement to facilitate vascular diagnosis and intervention.

The addition of the fluoroscopy unit will greatly enhance the VTH’s ability to insert vascular, tracheal, and urethral stents, treat intrahepatic shunts; conduct embolization procedures and perform a variety of life-saving cardiology procedures including ballooning for pacemaker placement and treating congenital heart defects.

The C-arm also plays an important role in orthopedics for procedures involving the positioning of plates and doing minimally invasive fracture repair.

“It’s digital, and its resolution is commensurate with what they use in human hospitals,” continues Dr. Holmes. “This machine was developed for human cardiology and we take what they use for humans and adapt it for our use. So, the technology your pet gets is the same technology that you would get if you went into a hospital.”

The point of being able to treat internal ailments with a minimally-invasive procedure as opposed to surgery, is a major advantage to patients.

“If you can avoid doing surgery,” said Chad Schmiedt, DVM, DACVS, “you can reduce the pain that the patient experiences, reduce the potential for wound complications, and speed up healing.”

The physical machine is only half of the equation when offering expanded services with the fluoroscopic unit – a trained team is equally, if not more, important. The team at the UGA VTH includes several double-boarded specialists who have extensive training and experience using the C-Arm.

The advent of the C-Arm also moves the UGA VTH toward its goal of offering an Interventional Radiology (IR) service.

“Our relationship with radiology,” continues Dr. Schmiedt, a soft-tissue surgeon, “is that we are the experts on the technical surgery side of things, where as the radiologists are the experts in interpreting what’s on the screen. Together, we can offer the optimal care. You’ve got to work together to make it happen, and the level of expertise we have here is certainly unique to the state of Georgia.”

In addition to the resolution, the other advantage of the new system is its mobility. Because it is in a “c” shape, it has an articulating arm that can easily be moved around the patient, allowing doctors to see hard-to-reach areas.

“The addition of the C-Arm is a great opportunity to grow and teach our residents,” added David Jimenez, DVM, DACVR. “We are really excited about being able to more precisely address relatively common conditions that animals have that we can now tackle. We are excited to be able to offer it to the community, to RDVMs and to patients.”

In addition to the variety of soft tissue and cardiology procedures, the C-Arm positions the UGA VTH to perform the following:

    Intrahepatic Shunts
    Regional Chemotherapy
    Arteriovenious Fistula Occlusion

Please contact the UGA VTH at 800-861-7456 for more information or to talk with one of our doctors about any of these procedures.

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