UP unveils largest CT scanner for veterinary practice in South Africa

Posted on February 29, 2024

The University of Pretoria's (UP) Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital (OVAH) has recently revealed the largest CT scanner ever used in veterinary practice in South Africa, made possible by a generous R13 million donation from the Roy McAlpine Charitable Foundation.
 
Given that the Faculty of Veterinary Science at UP is the sole veterinary school in the country and the second oldest on the continent, the state-of-the-art scanner will undoubtedly advance the training of veterinary specialists, clinical research capabilities, and innovation coming from UP. Part of the donation was used to make some changes to the existing CT room to accommodate the new and bigger Siemens Somatom Confidence 64 Slice CT scanner with a sliding gantry (a gantry that runs on a set of rails).
 
To perform a CT scan, done to visualise an entire area of the body (e.g., head and neck), the patient usually is placed on a table that moves through the gantry, which works well on smaller animals such as dogs. To be able to perform CT scans of the limbs as well as the head and neck of large animals like horses or buffalos, a CT scanner with a sliding gantry is required, allowing the gantry to move along the body of the animal, either in standing position or placed on a static table.
 
“As a referral and research centre the Faculty of Veterinary Science at UP and the OVAH have to be at the forefront of diagnostics,” Professor Themba Mosia, UP Interim Vice-Chancellor and Principal said. “A certain subset of cases is dependent on CT (computed tomography) for time and cost-effective diagnosis of suspected conditions. These include but are not limited to, small animal cases with suspected nasal pathology, equine cases with suspected dental and sinus pathology, and small animal cases with intra-thoracic and -abdominal vascular anomalies. We are grateful and commend the Roy McAlpine Charitable Foundation for helping us purchase a machine that allows us to obtain high-quality, diagnostic images at a reduced scan time. It increases throughput and improves diagnostic accuracy, to the benefit of the patient, client, and clinical team.”
 
Scotland-born Roy McAlpine, Founder of the Roy McAlpine Charitable Foundation, said the donation of the funds represents an example of how public-private partnerships can play an important role in enhancing our educational and other key institutions. “The importance of protecting our environment and wildlife for future generations cannot be underestimated”, McAlpine said. “I have been fortunate in having lived in this country throughout my adult life. It has given me a wonderful life for which I am very grateful. In founding this Foundation, my aim was, and remains, to give something back.”
 
Prof Vinny Naidoo, Dean of Faculty of Veterinary Science, and Dr Paul van Dam, Acting Director for the Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital (OVAH), said as with modern training facilities, imaging has been core to what can be done, making the generous donation of the funds by the McAlpine Foundation to procure a state-of-the-art CT scanner an opportunity to advance to the next level of diagnostic imaging, especially since the OVAH is the only veterinary facility in Africa with such advanced equipment for both patient care and specialist training. The Faculty has been training veterinarians since 1920, with the graduating class at the end of 2024 set to be the 100th class graduating with the BVSc degree. When the Faculty was started, the country was grappling with many veterinary diseases and animal welfare was non-existent.
 
Over the years, the veterinarians who graduated from the Faculty have gone on to assist our agricultural and companion animal sectors to develop and become what we see today, being the production of food that is good, sound, and wholesome to us and pets becoming members of the Family. To support the training of veterinarians and the subsequent need for veterinary specialist services like surgery, internal medicine, anesthesiology, and radiology, as animal care needs in the country advanced, the university developed a tertiary care hospital on its Onderstepoort Campus that, while funded by the university and Department of Higher Education, can still compete favourably with any medical hospital in the country.
 
OVAH sisters prepare the Scottish terrier patient before it receives a CT scan
- Author SG / CvB

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