Friday, March 2, 2012

Veterinary Highlights: Why Doesn't Every Veterinary Hospital Have One Of These?

It's been quite a while since I first read about thermal imaging being used by a zoo to diagnose a problem in an elephant's foot. I've been thinking about veterinary application of this technology ever since.

Why doesn't every veterinary hospital have one of these?

It could well be that there are some technical issues that I'm not aware of. But to my thinking this would make such an awesome diagnostic tool, wouldn't it?

What is the biggest drawback to treating dogs as opposed to people?

Dogs can't tell us where it hurts.

Some things are easy to diagnose. But some can remain a source of great frustration. Such as with Jasmine's episodes. It's been going on forever.  We did a number of diagnostic procedures, therapeutic trials, had many working hypotheses. With help of TCVM we got things fairly under control. But the episodes do come back and the truth is we still don't have a solid idea what's causing them.

Is it her heart or lungs? No, nothing was found there. Is it the structural abnormality in her neck? X-rays were inconclusive and specialists opinion says not likely. From my own observation of Jasmine during these, I really don't think it's a neck pain.

Is it her IBD flaring up? Possibly. Is it allergies? Another working hypothesis but I really don't see that being the reason either. Plus antihistamines don't make any difference.

Is it something as simple as gas? No abdominal distention, flatulation and not responsive to GasX. Is it some kind of acid reflux? Not responsive to antacids.

Is it pain from her arthritis? I really don't see a reason to thing that and it doesn't respond to any type of pain medication.

So what the heck is it? 

The truth is, we still don't know. How cool would it be to simply take a few pictures and have the troublesome area light right up?

Oral Tumor (Epulis) in a Dog. Image Veterinary Thermal Imaging

Veterinary Thermal Imaging website shows examples of conditions that were diagnosed with the help of this technology.
  • subclinical tendon lesion
  • muscular wasting (arthrophy)
  • joint inflammation
  • intermittent lameness
  • dermatosis
  • oral tumor
  • subchondral bone cyst

It's totally non-invasive. 

Doesn't require anesthesia, sedation, shaving …

I realize that it won't replace the need for more advanced diagnostics in some situations, but if there was a tool that could point out the problem area, wouldn't that make things way easier?

Where does it hurt? 

Too good to be truth? I don't know. But I'd be all over it.

So why doesn't every veterinary hospital have one of these?

It's your dog's health,

Further reading:
Veterinary Thermal Imaging Case Studies
Veterinary Applications for Large and Small Animals with Teletherm infrared
Thermal imaging of normal and cranial cruciate ligament-deficient stifles in dogs
Evaluation of thermographic imaging of the limbs of healthy dogs


  1. This is such an amazing piece of technology, and you're right, every veterinary hospital should have one. Unfortunately, I still think a lot of hospitals think their budget is more important than our pets welfare...

    Really hope you find out what's causing Jasmine's episodes soon.

    1. Do you have any experience with the thermal imaging? Certainly sounds really good.

      I appreciate budget constraints, but this isn't really THAT expensive in my opinion.

      Yeah, would be really nice to get to the bottom of those episodes, finally.

    2. I don't really have any experience with thermal imaging, but a friend had it used on his horse as he acting out - turns out it was inflamed joints. It's ridiculous how quick the diagnosis can be with this, rather than going for so many vets appointments and ending up with no diagnosis.

      I agree with you about the budget, but unfortunately I'm not a vet!!

    3. Hi Rich, that's awesome with your friend's horse. Seems it's presently mainly used by zoos and for horses. I'd really like to see it used for dogs also.

  2. We have one - a FLIR i7. We bought it for our horses, though I've been known to turn it on the dogs in a pinch (such as with Fe's recent Fever, trying to see if it was "just" a fever or a cause for alarm.) I agree, they're not prohibitively expensive. We spent about $2200 on ours and though it's fairly low tech/low res compared to some of the nice ones, it gets the job done.

    There are several horse racing tracks in Ontario, Jana (That's where you are, right?). Try contacting the veterinary liasons to those tracks, I can almost guarantee they'll know some one with a TI camera.

    1. Oh, wow, so cool!

      Yeah, seems to be used mainly by zoos and for horses. Dunno why not used for other things more. Our chiropractor thinking about getting one if we can find her one for decent price; so hubby looking :-)

      Yeah, some horse racing tracks up here; never been there, but good suggestion!