Performing a CT scan on a horse isn’t easy. It involves heavy equipment and heavy lifting of nearly a dozen technicians and veterinarians. Thanks to an innovative UC Davis imaging technician, however, that process just got a lot less complicated.
Thanks to Jason Peters, RVT, RLAT, an imaging technician at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis’ Diagnostic Imaging Service, that process just became much less of a hassle.
“We set out to acquire a new large animal table for CT,” said Peters, adding that the existing table has been in use at UC Davis for 30 years. “Due to our room configuration, however, we could not purchase a pre-existing table. So, we decided to build our own.”
Peters and his team settled on carbon fiber as the material as the table material of choice.
According to UC Davis, NASA uses carbon fiber for many applications in its space program due to the strength-to-weight ratio, high stiffness, chemical resistance and temperature tolerances. It’s also used in exotic sports cars, motorcycles, bicycles and sailboats.
“Just because something is made from carbon fiber, however, doesn’t mean it’s strong,” said Peters. “If it’s not molded correctly, that greatly affects the strength and durability of the piece. So we made sure to work with professionals who knew the best techniques.”
Using plans developed in conjunction with the UC Davis College of Engineering, Peters worked with Finishline Advanced Composites, a Bay Area carbon fiber manufacturer that specializes in automotive parts. Together, they designed a table that weighs only 100 pounds but can handle up to 10,000 pounds in any given area to handle off-balanced loads and certain impacts during loading and unloading of a large animal patient. The old table weighs twice as much and is not nearly as strong.
Peters also gave the table mobile ability by incorporating slide actuators under it that enable it to move side to side and to and from the CT machine. Now, the horse can remain stationary, and the table can be moved easily into position.
When a small animal CT immediately followings a horse, the new table can be dismantled quickly by easily removing locking pins in the legs and lifting the table out of place. Peters estimates that it now takes half the time it used to take to switch from small animal to large animal.
Extension plates also were manufactured to provide an extra surface for anatomy that does not fit on the main table. These pieces were made in the same manner as the main table and were engineered to hinge onto the main table at any given point.
The new table accommodates skulls and extremities of equine, bovine and exotic animals.