Mysterious world of veterinary imaging emerges

December 1, 2005

The cover story of this edition breaks with convention for Diagnostic Imaging Europe, because a key foundation on which this magazine was built was a refusal to publish clinical images of animals. Peter Ogle, editor of DI (USA) and our group editorial director for over 20 years before he left in 2001 to work as an industry consultant, was convinced that medical doctors had no interest in viewing scans of quadrupeds. He trained most of us, and we did not question what he said.

The cover story of this edition breaks with convention for Diagnostic Imaging Europe, because a key foundation on which this magazine was built was a refusal to publish clinical images of animals. Peter Ogle, editor of DI (USA) and our group editorial director for over 20 years before he left in 2001 to work as an industry consultant, was convinced that medical doctors had no interest in viewing scans of quadrupeds. He trained most of us, and we did not question what he said.

The advent of the molecular era has changed the field of play, however. As you have probably noticed from our quarterly newsletter, Molecular Imaging Outlook, images of animals are featured regularly because they are used in most pioneering research programs. Furthermore, when DI Europe's editorial advisory board met in Vienna in March, several board members suggested we have an article about veterinary imaging. They had heard it was modernizing, and they were curious to know more about a field that is largely a mystery to medical doctors.

A special veterinary session during the U.K. Radiological Congress, held in Manchester in June, provided an excellent introduction to the topic and forms the basis of my cover story in this issue. The 90-minute session was not well attended-probably due to the early-morning start and concurrent lectures on PACS implementation, MR teaching, intervention, and radiographic reporting-but it provided great insight. Speakers outlined the similarities and differences between working with humans and animals.

Clearly, rapid progress is being made in the veterinary field. Sharks and elephants do not spring to mind as viable candidates for imaging, but researchers are carrying out important work on these animals. They are making creative use of MRI, CT, and nuclear techniques.The European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging has been a driving force in this process. Registered in Giessen, Germany, it has a Danish president and a Belgian secretary and a network of committees for credentials, education, and residency. It has approved 17 sites as training centers.

Some medical doctors will have mixed feelings about these developments. They might, with some justification, question the ethics and wisdom of conducting expensive diagnostic tests on animals when financial pressures on human hospitals continue to mount. Nobody would seriously suggest that the needs of animals in this area should take precedence over those of humans. Advocates of veterinary imaging, however, would point to the immeasurable pleasure given to people by a fit and healthy pet or a competitive horse.

Please send your thoughts and views on this and other topics to me at di-europe@btconnect.com