The role of nuclear medicine in imaging companion animals

Geoffrey M. Currie*, Janelle M. Wheat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The role of equine nuclear medicine in Australia has been previously described in this journal and more recently, Lyall et al. provided a general overview of demographics of veterinary nuclear medicine departments in Australia. Lyall et al. discuss the main clinical applications of nuclear medicine scintigraphy in companion animals; dogs and cats. The aim of this article is to discuss in brief the applications of commonly performed nuclear medicine procedures in humans with respect to veterinary applications. More detailed discussion will also be offered for investigation of pathologies unique to veterinary nuclear medicine or which are more common in animals than humans. Companion animals are living longer today due to advances in both veterinary and human medicine. The problem is, like humans, longevity brings higher incidence of old age morbidity. As a pet owner, one might be initially motivated to extend life expectancy which is followed by the realisation that one also demands quality of life for pets. Early detection through advanced diagnostic tools, like nuclear medicine scintigraphy, allows greater efficacy in veterinary disease. There are limited veterinary nuclear medicine facilities in Australia due to cost and demand. Not surprisingly then, the growth of veterinary nuclear medicine in Australia, and overseas, has been integrally coupled to evaluation of race horses. While these facilities are generally specifically designed for race horses, racing greyhounds, lame family horses and companion animals are being investigated more frequently. In the USA, the American College of Veterinary Radiology (ACVC) is very active clinically and in research. The ACVC journal. Journal of Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound, is published quarterly and includes a Nuclear Medicine section. Within the ACVR is the Society of Veterinary Nuclear Medicine. Proliferation of veterinary nuclear medicine centres in the USA has been associated with insurance and lifestyle changes. In Australia one can now obtain health insurance for pets, for example on home contents insurance policies. Lifestyle changes have seen greater pressure being placed on veterinarians to better prevent and manage serious illness in our pets and to give us a little more information than, for example, 'he's old now, it might be time to put him down'. The veterinarians, then, need access to advanced diagnostic tools to provide improved animal care, health management and answers for pet owners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalANZ Nuclear Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005

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    Currie, G. M., & Wheat, J. M. (2005). The role of nuclear medicine in imaging companion animals. ANZ Nuclear Medicine, 36(3), 101-106.