How robotic imaging for horses could offer breathing room for human CT scanning

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Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine have partnered with imaging technology company 4DDI to develop a new way of conducting CT scans on horses, laying the groundwork for potential applications in human medicine.

The new imaging system, called EQUIMAGINETM, uses mechanized robots to collect a full 360 degrees of high-resolution medical images of horses, avoiding the need for anesthesia.

“The reason this is so revolutionary is that the robots can easily move around the horse in any orientation,” said Barbara Dallap Schaer, medical director at the school's New Bolton Center, in a press release. “We can do the imaging in a patient that is standing and awake. From a clinical standpoint, we will see elements of the horse’s anatomy that we’ve never seen before.”

The technology could have significant impact on human-based imaging, especially in cases involving pediatric patents, said Dallap Shaer.

“Instead of a child having to be anesthetized, they could sit there on their iPad and talk to their parents and have the image prepared in 30 seconds,” she said. “That’s one of the translational pieces we hope to bring to Penn.”