Marking the first time a CT scanner has been used in veterinary services in Southern Africa, the donation of a Siemens Emotion Dual Slice CT scanner with a sliding gantry worth almost R2,5-million will assist the renowned Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital (OVAH) to provide highly accurate and sophisticated diagnoses across a wide range of domestic and production animals and in so doing, remain internationally competitive in training students.

Affiliated to the University of Pretoria for all students completing a degree in veterinary science, Onderstepoort is an academic veterinary training centre that was established approximately 17 years ago.
“At that time, Siemens was the preferred supplier of all x-ray equipment installed at Onderstepoort,” says Andrew Forder, business development manager at Siemens Medical Solutions. “Of late however, a need for a CT scanner became a priority for the hospital, with the biggest challenge being how the equipment could handle not only the smaller animals, but larger equestrian patients who could not be dealt with on a standard CT table.”
Forder says when working with the enormous weight of horses, for example, it was obvious that a standard configuration was not going to be suitable for the job at hand.
“In close consultation with the factory, Siemens was finally and very successfully able to supply a CT scanner with a sliding gantry,” he says.
Using the latest spiral CT technology, the Siemens Emotion Dual Slice CT scanner is unusual in that it is the first sliding gantry table in South Africa. The circular gantry, which contains the rotating X-ray tube, slides over the patient rather than the conventional approach where the patient slides into the gantry. This special design was commissioned to enable examination of heads and limbs of horses.
“This technology has provided the users with the opportunity to make use of a two patient table solution. The first table is standard while the second has been specially developed for scanning an equestrian patient. This CT solution is the first of its kind in South Africa and promises to be an added advantage to this well regarded training institution.”
Professor R Kirberger, Head of Diagnostic Imaging at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, says the addition of the Siemens CT scanner to the institution’s recently commissioned computed radiography system, CT scanner and gamma camera will enable the faculty to remain internationally competitive in the training of under- and post-graduate students as well as in any research utilising such imaging modalities.
Having replaced the conventional system of producing and developing hard copy films, all x-ray, ultrasound, CT and scintigraphy images generated within the OVAH are now in digital format. The images are stored on a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) wherefrom they can be accessed and evaluated by radiologists on high resolution monitors.
“Postgraduate students who train to become veterinary radiologists, are registered as specialists by the SA Veterinary Council, and in addition, are entitled to write European exams, as the diagnostic imaging section of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital is an approved training centre for the European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging,” he says.
With the latest diagnostic imaging equipment at its disposal, the Faculty of Veterinary Science foresees being able to provide highly accurate and sophisticated diagnoses across the broad range of domestic and production animals, as well as exotics and wildlife, that makes up the annual patient load.