MRI And PET Machines At Santa Anita Identifying Potential Breakdowns

Put into place nearly a year ago, Santa Anita’s use of both the Longmile Positron Emission Tomography (MILE-PET) Scan machine and the standing MRI machine have successfully identified injuries that may become catastrophic, proponents say.

The PET machine is used on a standing horse and produces scans that veterinarians hope will detect pre-existing injuries that could potentially lead to breakdowns. Thus far, it’s worked. Created just a year ago at UC Davis by Dr. Mathieu Spriet, the machine is particularly effective when used in conjunction with the track’s MRI machine.

The creation and implementation of PET scanning at Santa Anita in less than a year is impressive, but necessary. Studies have shown that pre-existing injuries, many of which are not apparent, are present in more than 85 percent of catastrophic breakdowns; the fetlocks are particularly vulnerable to breaking, reports Thoroughbred Daily News.

A recent report by the California Horse Racing Board’s (CHRB) reported that 21 of 23 equine fatalities at Santa Anita had pre-existing injuries at the same site as their breakdowns, the majority of which involved the fetlock. The report also notes that these two tools can be used to help catch the injuries sooner.

To use the PET scan, a radioactive tracer is injected into the horse; abnormalities in the bone will appear bright. The MRI machine uses a horse’s natural magnetic properties to produce an image. Currently, 45 PET scans have been conducted on more than 30 horses that showed lameness or swelling near the fetlock; many of these horses also had MRI scans. The machines have been utilized by multiple vets and trainers, many of whom paid for the scans on their own and not as part of a study.

These scans show a variety of issues, but it has been observed that the most common problem area for racehorses is bottom of the cannon bone where it enters the fetlock. The PET scans also showed that the front of the sesamoid bones, which sit at the back of the fetlock, can be most vulnerable.

Interestingly, not all horses with similar injuries responded the same to six weeks of rest. Comparing PET scans that were taken initially and ones taken at the conclusion of the six-week break in training showed that some of the problems mostly went away, but some didn’t improve much at all.

It’s helpful to image horses multiple times to be able to track if the treatment protocol is working. Used in conjunction with an MRI, the PET scan can pick up on some problems an MRI may miss, like sesamoid issues. Spreit believes that as the PET scan can product a quantifiable measurement, it will eventually be used to help develop a threshold that can highlight horses that may be at risk for catastrophic breakdowns of the fetlock.

Read more at Thoroughbred Daily News.

The post MRI And PET Machines At Santa Anita Identifying Potential Breakdowns appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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