At the Forefront of Imaging

Since animals cannot tell their doctors where it hurts, veterinarians rely heavily on the accuracy of enhanced imaging to diagnose disease and develop a treatment plan. Imaging is also essential for clinical research— allowing us to see where disease exists, how it progresses and how it responds to treatment. To continue providing the highest standard of care and advance health through research, the school is committed to staying at the forefront of innovations in imaging technology.
In 2015, veterinary radiologists from the school were the first to image a horse using a prototype of a newly created positron emission tomography (PET) scanner that was here to image brain tumors in dogs for a clinical trial. The school later acquired the scanner permanently and continues to make breakthroughs in demonstrating the success of PET scanning—detecting lesions that other advanced modalities (such as CT or MRI) do not identify.

Now we are expanding our PET capabilities at UC Davis. On the horizon is the Mini Explorer II project. This next generation PET scanner is expected to be operational within the next few months. It will provide a significant increase in sensitivity for total body imaging and perform scans more quickly and with a much lower radiation dose— reduced by 40 times.

The Mini Explorer II is made possible by a gift from the estate of the late Ernest and Madeline Wellington to the Center for Companion Animal Health (CCAH). The Wellingtons were animal lovers and especially devoted to their dog, Bonnie Girl. Their devotion inspired them to include the CCAH in their estate plans because of the impact the center has on advancing animal health.
“The legacy the Wellington Estate brings to the school is a whole new type of imaging that will help countless animals by diagnosing disease earlier and more completely, and helping us to plan and direct treatment,” said Dr. Michael Kent, radiation oncologist and director of the CCAH. “It will also help us develop new treatments for our patients. This is going to make a huge impact, and we are grateful for their gift.”

Bringing the Mini Explorer II to the school is the result of a collaborative effort by UC Davis biomedical engineer Dr. Simon Cherry (College of Engineering), medical physicist Dr. Ramsey Badawi (School of Medicine) and the veterinary hospital’s Diagnostic Imaging Service. The school’s multidisciplinary approach discovers new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases by harnessing the expertise and resources of the entire university behind each veterinarian.

“Innovations in diagnostic imaging technology are critical to our school’s comprehensive vision for the future,” said Dr. Erik Wisner, associate director of Imaging Services. “This includes an All Species Imaging Center as a central feature of the future Veterinary Medical Center. We are committed more than ever to leading the way toward innovation and discovery to improve the health of our patients.”

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