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Opening up a New Era of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging

August 2, 2022

The Vantage Elan 1.5T MR pushes neurological examinations and paves the way for new studies in veterinary patients, specialists at the Anicura AOI Center in Switzerland told VISIONS.
Zug means train in German. As images of railway tracks, green valleys and blue skies spring to mind, the name of a small region in Switzerland may also linger in memory.

The Zug canton is one of the smallest Swiss cantons. With a name that so vividly evokes travel, it can’t be surprising that about 30% of the population comes from abroad. It’s also no wonder that the team at the Anicura AOI Center in Hünenberg speaks eight languages.

The clinic cares for companion animals from all over Switzerland and beyond, being one of the few centers to offer both imaging and oncology services in Europe.

“We’re quite a unique setup in the European private veterinary mar- ket,” said Andrea Sumova, managing director and medical physicist at the Anicura AOI Center. “Besides university centers, there aren’t that many places that provide the whole imaging modality portfolio and a linear accelerator under one roof”.

Patients include cats and dogs, but also rodents, rabbits and exotic pets. A couple of weeks ago, the team even tended to a python for radiation therapy.
From left to right: Andrea Kleger, Technician, Daniel Ivan, Veterinary Radiologist and Ylva Heidrich, Veterinarian (Anicura AOI Center, Switzerland
“In veterinary medicine, you never get a dull moment,” Veterinarian Radiologist Daniel Ivan said. “Many of the more exotic cases work out better than expected thanks to the owner’s cooperation, but we also have our tricks. For example, if we want to restrain a snake, we can get them to crawl into a plastic pipe. Most snakes will instinctually go inside, allow us to take the required imaging studies, while not being able to turn and flex around your arm or even bite you.”

“We couldn’t offer the full package to our patients. Now with that MR system, we can. It was the best choice for our clinic.”

Daniel Ivan, Veterinary Radiologist at the Anicura AOI Center in Switzerland.
The clinic employs a variety of profiles that all together advance veterinary medicine. Besides the radiologist the team consists of a double board-certified specialist in oncology and radiation therapy, a neurologist, a certified medical physicist, three veterinarians, an imaging technician and nurses complete the team.

Daniel Ivan is a trained resident of the European College of veterinary Diagnostic Imaging, preparing for his final certification. “I started working with an old 0.2T system that was originally designed for orthopedic imaging in humans, and then I worked all the way up to 3T MRIs.”

For the past three months, he’s been using the Vantage Elan 1.5T MR system in daily practice and can hardly hide his enthusiasm. “The Vantage Elan opens up a new era for us” he said.
Ylva Heidrich, Veterinarian at the Anicura AOI Center in Switzerland.
While CT is used for planning, bleeding or head trauma, MRI is the gold standard for the central nervous system. A high field system can make all the difference. “The great value of a higher field strength magnet is that it offers shorter examination times and large field of view, with great resolution. All these factors combined with the flexibility of the coils, make our work easier and improve our diagnostic capabilities”, Daniel explained.

Scan time must kept be as short as possible in patients in a critical or unstable condition, considering that anesthesia needs to be induced in veterinary patients in order to restrain movement during examination.
“We are frequently under time pressure when performing a study”, Daniel said. “We’re not here to just create images. Reducing scan time can make a big difference: sometimes reaching a diagnosis or not, sometimes even life or death.”

The Vantage Elan has considerably reduced scan time. With the new pro- tocols, a brain examination in small animals now takes about from 20 to 40 -50 minutes and a spine examination, 15 to 20 minutes from start to finish.

“It’s extremely fast. If we’re working with a field of view of 50 cm or over in a medium sized dog; with the correct positioning, we can acquire overviews of the spine in sagittal plane, in great detail, in a couple of minutes. Combined with some dorsal and transverse sequences, diagnosis is very quickly achieved in the majority of cases.”
The Vantage Elan is a robust and versatile MRI system that can be used for basic to advanced veterinary imaging applications.

On board are also a range of advanced imaging techniques like diffusion weighted imaging for example in oncology and neurology (i.e. early stroke detection), susceptibility weighted sequences i.e. for detecting even small microbleeds, a range of non-contrast and contrast enhanced MRA sequences and more.

It also offers a range of acceleration techniques to speed up the examination while maintaining outstanding image quality, has homogenous and robust fat suppression techniques and can be used for imaging very small (i.e. a feline brain) as well as large FOV's (i.e. when imaging a full spine of a large canine) in a very user-friendly manner thanks to the intuïtive user interface.

The Vantage Elan is also compatible with next-generation techniques like Artificial Intelligence (AI) based noise removal and compressed sensing scan acceleration technology.
Canon Medical's Vantage Elan at the Anicura AOI Center in Switzerland.

Going to soft tissues and beyond

The Vantage Elan does not only enable to examine patients with general brain and spine pathology, but also certain muscular conditions and joints, such as the as the shoulder joint or stifle joints.

“I’m very happy with the equipment and our cooperation with Canon Medical,” Daniel Ivan said. “We’re exploring the possibility to expand some of our current studies. With an MRI scanner this advanced, we are getting new ideas.”

“We’re very happy with the cooperation with Canon, they were here if we had questions, before, during and after the installation.”

Andrea Sumova, managing director and medical physicist at the Anicura AOI Center in Switzerland.
Diagnosing tendon lesions in small joints can for instance be chal- lenging. All of these situations can be tackled with the Vantage Elan, thanks to the great setup of the coils, a key component in that piece of machinery.

“Older machines we worked with were not very well adapted to our patients, because of the way the technology was delivered,” he said. “Although origi- nally not dedicated to veterinary care, Canon Medical’s Vantage Elan coils work very well for us and are easy to adapt to our needs.”

Sequences performed with the Vantage Elan also enable to depict the nerve roots in the spine.

“The 3D MPRAGE is very nice to image our spinal patients, especially those with pathology in the lumbar spine ”.

The best is yet to come, as those extremely fast sequences could help perform vascular imaging, an increas- ingly explored, yet underdeveloped field in veterinary medicine.

Another benefit of the equipment is that it’s very quiet. “With various high field machines, sequences can get extremely loud. While we are trying to compromise and keep a superficial level of anesthesia, noise can be a stimulus. Less noise is great for everybody in and around the machine”.
Andrea Kleger, Ylva Heidrich and Daniel Ivan.
The team also appreciates the capacity to obtain very good quality 3D images, allowing for multi planar reconstruc- tions. Slice positioning can be difficult due to the wide variations in patient sizes and weight. “Receviving thin slices with high resolution in a decent time really improves diagnosis.”

The user-friendly interface is a delight. “Not having to worry about various bugs or issues is a relief,” said Daniel Ivan.

The cooperation with Canon is just as easy. “We’re very happy,” Andrea Sumova said. “They were here if we had questions, before, during and after the installation.”

“Everything I was used with a 3T, I got it with a 1.5T,” Daniel Ivan said.

“This clinic, without and MRI, couldn’t offer the full package to our patients. Now, with this system, we can. It was probably the best choice for us and I’m happy we didn’t settle for less. Judging the relation with Canon and the technology built in this machine, makes me feel that we are future-proof too.”
Dorsal Real IR.

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