Standing Head CT Information

Computer tomography (CT) is a sophisticated imaging technique that uses a rotating x-ray machine to produce high-resolution, cross-sectional images or ‘slices’ of a body part. In horses CT imaging is particularly useful for investigating diseases of the head, including dental abnormalities, problems of the sinuses and nasal passages, traumatic injuries of the skull, headshaking and neurological diseases. 

B&W Equine Hospital is one of only a handful hospitals in the UK that has the facilities to carry out CT imaging of the head in standing, sedated horses, avoiding the need for, and the risks of a general anaesthetic. The horse stands on a moving platform that glides the horse’s head through the circular CT scanner. 

CT scans are usually completed within a few hours and the report will be ready the following day to be
discussed with you and your vet. Owners are given the option of leaving their horse with us for the night of the scan to save a repeat trip in the horse box or trailer if there is any recommended treatment to be done at the Hospital.  

What to expect

  • Your horse will be booked a 1 ½ hour slot for the CT scan.  Whilst the scan itself does not take this long, this gives us sufficient time to prepare your horse for the scan and to carefully position your horse on the CT platform.
  • The CT scan is a non-painful procedure.   However, some horses find the environment strange.
  • All horses are sedated for the procedure.  Your horse will have a small patch clipped on the left side of the neck and a catheter placed into the left vein.  This allows us to top up the level of sedation as required without injecting your horse.
  • Whilst we are able to scan almost all horses with appropriate levels of sedation, very occasionally a horse will refuse to go onto the platform or will not remain still enough during repeated attempts to perform the scan.
  • We are not able to scan horses under standing sedation if they are less than 13hh (138 cm) since they are not able to place their head through the circular CT scanner.
  • Horses will have stable bandages placed prior to being carefully positioned on the CT platform.  These provide protection as the horse is walked onto and off the platform. 
  • It is not possible for you to be with your horse whilst he or she is being scanned but we are very happy to show you the scanning room if you are interested.
  • If it is more convenient for you, you are welcome to drop your horse off prior to the scan and pick them up at a later date.  The price of a CT scan includes a free night of livery should your horse need to stay for treatment the following day or should you wish to drop your horse off the night before the scan.
  • If further investigation or treatment is indicated, from the CT findings, then it may be necessary for your horse to stay longer.  If you have been referred from another practice we will speak to your vet regarding any further investigation or treatment before going ahead.
  • Evaluating the CT images fully takes time so please do not expect to know the CT findings for your horse immediately following the scan.  It is routine for us to communicate with your vet first and we will either discuss the findings with you directly, if your vet requests this, or will leave your vet to discuss the findings with you themselves.  We endeavour to report the findings within 24 hours following the CT scan. 
  • Most insurance companies pay for the cost of a CT scan.  However, if your horse is insured please seek prior approval from the insurance company.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries or concerns regarding the procedure.

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Equine Hospital
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