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August 28, 2009

A new computed tomography (CT) scanner is showing promise as the newest innovative diagnostic tool for veterinarians. Named the "Charlie-SPS" (small pet scanner), this new CT scanner stands out for its portability and smaller than standard size, making it more accessible than the standard stationary CT scanner, and more affordable.

What this will mean for both veterinarians and their patients is a speedier diagnostic process, which will lead to faster and more effective treatment. An added benefit is that with the smaller size and price, financial overhead will be lowered as well, making the diagnostics of disease treatment more accessible to small business veterinarians and more accessible to pet owners, who must consider the affordability of treating their pets.

One veterinary hospital that has already installed the Charlie-SPS is the Campus Commons Pet Hospital in Sacramento, CA. Dr. Robert Richardson, DVM, has been impressed with the new machine because of its ability to help him and his staff to diagnose and treat several cases that might have required more invasive techniques to conclude a diagnosis. At the least, Richardson says, the Charlie-SPS minimizes the amount of testing that needs to be performed to come to a conclusive diagnosis.

Dr. Richardson described two cases in which the Charlie was especially helpful. In one case, a young Rottweiler was inexplicably lame, and standard X-ray imaging was not showing the cause of the lameness. The Charlie, however, gave a more clearly defined internal image, and showed that there were chips in the Rottweiler's elbow, a common finding in large breed dogs that are in a phase of rapid growth. Dr. Richardson said that he and his staff were able to treat the pup quickly as a result, adding that the dog was "on the mend and has a very good prognosis."

One of the other cases involved a Beagle that was suffering from sudden pain and near paralysis in its back legs. Ralphy the Beagle was whisked into the Charlie, where after only a few minutes it was found that he had ruptured a disk in the lumbar region of his spinal column. Because this was the first time using the Charlie for a diagnosis that indicated surgery, Dr. Richardson backed up the findings with standard testing approaches as well.

"We conducted the usual myelogram to correlate and support the Charlie scan ... we were very pleased with the comparative data," said Dr. Richardson. "Charlie delivered a magnificent series of images of Ralphy's lower lumbar region."

Dr. Richardson performed decompressive surgery of the spinal cord, and Ralphy was "wobbly, but up on his feet again within six days," according to Dr. Richardson.

The Charlie-SPS was conceived, designed and manufactured by the NeuroLogica Corporation, which specializes in portable diagnostic scanning devices. Charlie is part of their line of CereTom scanners, made to fit into small or temporary spaces so that medical professionals can put them to immediate use for immediate results. Charlie-SPS joins a growing list of technological innovations made to suit a global society in which everything is becoming smaller and more compact.

Dr. Richardson seems to be reflecting that reality from a small animal veterinary specialist's point of view. "It is simply more portable and easier to use," said Dr. Richardson. "I can honestly say we were mesmerized by the results."

Fortunately, smaller devices often come with a smaller price tag as well, making advances such as this available to a wider population of animal caretakers. David Zavagno, president and CEO of United Medical Systems of Ohio, the distributor of Charlie-SPS, said in statement that "Charlie eliminates the prohibitive costs of power installation, leaded rooms, climate controls, and represents a savings of $30,000-$50,000."

Image Source: AVMA

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