Scintigraphy, also known as bone scanning, is used during equine lameness investigations and poor performance evaluations.
Scintigraphy provides us with a screening tool to locate areas of increased metabolic activity in bone which may indicate a site of injury.
The horse is injected with a radioisotope which is absorbed in increased amounts in regions of the body undergoing remodelling processes. Remodelling can indicate a source of pathology. Using a special gamma camera, any areas of increased uptake can be identified. Once an area is identified, further diagnostic techniques are used to ascertain the significance of the findings.
Scintigraphy or bone scanning is particularly useful for imaging areas that are difficult to x-ray such as the pelvis, back and upper limbs as well as isolating problems that might not be readily apparent on x-rays, such as stress fractures. It can also be used to detect early bony changes before they become visible on radiographs and can be a useful tool in poor performance work ups or multi-limb lamenesses, where there may be several sites of pain.