Preparing for an equine X-ray

A clinical article explaining the necessary steps that must be taken when preparing for equine X-ray.

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Preparing for an equine X-ray

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Before beginning any X-ray examination, it is worth running through a few simple checks to make the process easier and less stressful, both for you and the animal.

Check the wet processor or digital system is switched on as many wet processors take quite a while to warm up, whereas digital systems are normally quite quick.

If using a computerised or digital system I always input the patient details when the animal is about to be sedated, or earlier in the day if the X-rays have been pre-booked. Then it is all ready to go when you are. For a wet processor once it’s switched on and warmed up it’s worth running a couple of films through – you can use old x-rays as cleaner x-rays.

Ensure you know the required projections.

For equine radiography in the practice you know you have a ‘safe location’ to work, but it can be worth having a look around to make sure no one is in the wrong place.

For ambulatory equine radiography it’s a good idea to check you have all the kit before you get to the yard, as there is nothing worse than forgetting something vital, and I am convinced the further from the practice you are the more likely things are to be forgotten!

  • X-ray system (DR or CR), or…
  • Enough cassettes if using film or CR
  • X-ray generator
  • Extension lead(s)
  • Lead protection – gowns and gloves
  • Positioning aids – wooden blocks and Podoblock, etc.
  • Markers
  • Play dough
  • Nail and/or drawing pins (if X-raying feet)
  • Sticky tape
  • X-ray record book

If X-raying on a yard it is important to have as few people around as possible. Vets appear to magnetically attract children but it is vital to have no under 18’s around the X-ray system – this includes not holding the horse.

There should be enough lead aprons available for everyone who is involved, and you should record in your exposure book who was there.

Don’t forget to use markers; we all rely on digital systems marking images for us but I would rather use a lead marker too, and this also then helps with demonstrating lateral and medial sides on DR views too. A friend of mine uses X-rite tape for her equine work as she has lost too many markers.

One vital tip to remember if you are doing CR images and then going back to the practice to process them later is that the longer you wait between taking the images and processing them the greater the degree of image degradation.

Also, in summer CR cassettes and film can both fog if left in a hot car, and rapid temperature changes can effect DR systems too.

With a little bit of planning you can save a lot of hassle and make the whole process a lot easier.

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