Veterinary thermography is becoming very popular and I am a big fan of it especially for horses with non-specific difficult to diagnose lameness, multiple limb lameness, to determine if a horse is in pain, or to monitor rehabilitation and treatment. However, there are some thermographers, physio’s, physical therapists, vets, companies etc. out there using industrial instead of medical/veterinary grade cameras, or even worse a thermal camera that attaches to a smart phone.
Having completed some thermography training myself I understand this is simply not acceptable for many reasons. These cameras are not specifically designed for physiological testing, they are not calibrated for measuring metabolic heat (which has a very narrow temperature range), which means they are not accurate or sensitive enough to provide useful information. The images are not taken by someone specifically trained to get the best images to see problematic areas. The images produced need to be interpreted by a veterinarian that has been specifically trained to report on these images as a ‘hot spot’ is not necessarily related to the area they are seen on the image, due to the heat following the metabolic and neural pathways. A vet or other person not specifically trained to interpret the image may start trying to self-diagnose and treat from the image which could cause serious harm to the horse and neglect of the area with the actual real problem, which obviously poses a serious welfare issue.
For my clients I only ever recommend Syncthermology for all veterinary digital infrared thermographic imaging. They are the only company using medical grade cameras in the UK, the only company that performs a stress test as standard, their technicians taking the images are highly skilled to get the best images, they have their own veterinary surgeons specifically trained to interpret and fully report on the images. These results and veterinary reports will include objective opinion, recommendation and information that will assist your own vet in making a diagnosis, in selecting further diagnostic tests if required, helping them to select treatment options and monitor recovery.
Thermography is a great tool in the right hands!! For more information see http://www.syncequine.com/ and please do not let someone with an industrial camera or smart phone app take thermal images of your horse, it may appear to be a good low cost option but chances are they have no idea what they are doing or what they are looking at!
For anyone in the North West region that wants to know more the Sync North West Team will be attending the Joanne Shaw Equestrian working hunter Clinic on Saturday 13th February. They will be holding demos throughout the day and the team will be happy to chat to you about the services they provide, and I will be there too. The address is Joanne Shaw Equestrian, Red House Farm, Barkers Hollow Road, Preston-On-The-Hill, WA4 4LL.