Work is continuing to progress with the new Donaldson’s Vets hospital at Somerset Road with an anticipated opening date now scheduled for July.

With so much more space available than we have been used to at the historic hub of the practice at Maple Street, the whole Donaldson’s team are looking forward to the upgraded facilities and one of the features of the new hospital that is most eagerly awaited is the on-site CT scanner.

We do have access to CT at Maple Street. Every second Thursday, a mobile CT scanner on an articulated lorry squeezes alongside the surgery building allowing our patients to benefit from the amazing diagnostic capabilities of CT.

Basically a 3D Xray, the CT scanner allows us to acquire incredibly detailed images that enable diagnosis that just could not be achieved with either conventional X ray or ultrasound. The caseload for CT has been incredibly varied. The visiting CT scanner has allowed us to diagnose and treat pets who have been knocked and sustained both bone and soft tissue injuries, we have localised tiny tumours that would otherwise have evaded detection, we have seen young pets with developmental problems, dogs with hairline cracks in bones before the bone fractures altogether, tiny flaps of cartilage that would have caused terrible problems in later life and assessed breathing abnormalities in dogs with excess tissue in their throats.

The versatility of CT scan allows very diverse conditions to be accurately assessed. Often we use intravenous contrast (a kind of dye) to highlight blood vessels and areas of inflammation and we can use CT to accurately guide biopsy sampling in deep tissue structures with far greater accuracy than ever before.

There are however limitations to the visiting CT scanner. Firstly, it is only with us once every 2 weeks and there are some patients who just cant wait that long.

Secondly, the visiting scanner is a 16 slice scanner – that means that it collects 16 sets of images each time the machine performs 1 rotation around the patient. It is only a couple of years ago that a four slice or even a single slice CT scanner was considered cutting edge. While much faster than many CT scanners, it is now not the fastest (and when it comes to scanning a moving structure like the heart, speed is really important to avoid movement blur).

When we open the doors to the new hospital, we will have onsite access to a 64 slice scanner. Being 4 times faster than the current scanner ( and 64 times faster than a 1st generation CT scanner) will open up enormous potential for even more cases to benefit from super-advanced imaging.

With less than 3 months until we open the Somerset Road Hospital, I cant wait to have the benefit of the new facilities for my patients.