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Vet clinic brings hi-def CT scanner to animal care

Dr. Brad Bartholomay says the new CT scanner at the Casselton Veterinary Service clinic will greatly aid in the diagnosis and prognosis of animal medical issues they deal with. Dave Olson/The Forum1 / 4
The new CT scanner at the Casselton Veterinary Service clinic allows for high-resolution images of what is happening inside patients, according to Dr. Brad Bartholomay. Dave Olson/The Forum2 / 4
A high-resolution CT scan done by the Casselton Veterinary Service clinic. Special to The Forum3 / 4
CT scans provide high definition, 3-D images that help medical staff understand what is ailing patients at the Casselton Veterinary Service clinic. Dave Olson/The Forum4 / 4

CASSELTON, N.D.—The Casselton Veterinary Service clinic here has a new hi-definition X-ray machine that helps care providers zero in on what's ailing animals.

"Now, instead of just a two-dimensional image, we get a three-dimensional image of what we're looking at and that really helps," said Dr. Brad Bartholomay, a co-owner of Casselton Veterinary Service.

Words don't easily convey the impact of the images created by the clinic's new computed tomography scanner, more commonly known as a CT scanner.

Bones and other internal features of a patient appear in scans in sharp detail.

Also, because the scans provide a 3D perspective, Bartholomay can manipulate the image to see it from all angles.

"This ends up being kind of like a video game. You get addicted to it," Bartholomay said as he demonstrated using an image of an animal's spine.

"We've only had it (the scanner) for, like, a week; we have done 30 scans already," Bartholomay said, adding that so far it has been used often to explore why an animal has gone lame.

"Because our clinic sees a lot of back injuries, we use it to look for spine problems; also for prognosis and diagnosis of tumors and from there to treatment," he added.

The new machine is coming in handy with smaller animals, according to Bartholomay, who said in the past he has had to refer clients elsewhere for similar services.

"They would have to go to Minneapolis, get a hotel," he said.

When it comes to that, Bartholomay said the cost for such CT services in the Twin Cities ranges from about $1,600 to $1,800.

He said Casselton Veterinary prices for the same services ranges from about $975 for a simple scan to about $1,450 for a more complicated scan.

"There's lots of areas where this is helpful, like any kind of sinus problems," he said.

"We don't need this for every case," Bartholomay said of the new scanner. "We got this because we felt it was a needed thing for our area and our community."

Elizabeth Nelson was happy to hear about the new scanner.

Nelson, of Fargo, shows dogs and she said she relies on Casselton Veterinary when it comes to major medical care for the animals, including chiropractic, acupuncture and surgical procedures.

She said said she has also utilized the clinic for rehab for her dogs.

About seven years ago one of her dogs suffered a spinal injury, and she ended up taking her dog to the University of Minnesota in her efforts to save the dog.

Ultimately, the dog did not survive his injuries, but Nelson said had a local clinic had the technology the Casselton clinic now offers, the story may have ended differently.

"It's huge, because they're serving such a rural area," Nelson said.

In addition to animals like dogs and cats, the clinic also has the room and know-how to treat large animals like horses and cows.

The new scanner is located in a section of the clinic that was completed in 2007.

An earlier addition was completed in 1996, and the original structure dates back to the 1960s. Today, it's a large operation that Bartholomay said clients sometimes refer to as the Mayo Clinic for pets.

Dave Olson
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