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Infrared Thermography – Non-Invasive Diagnosis Option for Animals (Part 2)

Posted January 07, 2009 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta

What was the most-requested diagnostic tool at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta? At the equestrian events, it was infrared thermography! Analysis with this tool is fast, accurate, portable, and non-invasive. Infrared thermography may be expensive, but it can easily "scan" the whole animal. If you missed it, check out Part 1 of this series to learn more about infrared thermography and its applications for zoo animals.

Equines (Horses)

Thermal imaging is a valuable tool for detecting previously undiagnosed lameness in horses. It's particularly helpful in evaluating expensive animals during pre-purchase examinations. This diagnostic technology can help reveal non-visible physical problems, such as back trouble or nerve damage, that could plague a horse for years to come.

There are, of course, factors that can affect the results of infrared thermography results in equines. These factors include:

  • Wind
  • Long hair coat vs. short hair coat (and clipping patterns)
  • Mud caked on the body or legs
  • Legs that have been wrapped or have had liniment applied (can cause an increased heat reading)
  • Motion (horse must stand still)

Symmetry is also an important consideration. Both sides of the body or parts of the body (for example, the forelegs) need to be compared for an accurate analysis. If necessary, other diagnostic tools can be used for follow-up. Ttreatment of the animal can also begin. Often, it's as simple as making changes such as how the saddle fits!

Cattle

Infrared thermography is now used in the livestock industry, particularly with cattle. According to a study from Fachhochschule Weihenstephan (part of the Munich University of Applied Sciences), thermographic inspections of cattle are "economically plausible" for

  • Body temperature measurement
  • Detection of inflammation
  • Testicular function
  • Udder health
  • Bull inspection at market
  • Monitoring of animals in quarantine

As with any health issue, catching a problem early with the least invasive method possible is the best option. Infrared thermography also helps cut down on the spreading of illness via shared instruments.

Another way infrared technology can help diagnose problems in cattle is by looking at their hooves. As with any hooved animal, the feet are the foundation for standing. Chronic lameness problems can cause major losses of time and money. Although infrared thermography "does not give an exact diagnosis", it can help pinpoint problem areas by showing higher temperatures (which may indicate inflammation or disease) for further evaluation.

Thermal imaging may be an expensive technology, but it's not brand new. Overall, it's no more expensive than other commonly used diagnostic tools. It is, however, something to consider as part of an evaluation plan for animal health.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermography

http://www.vet-therm.com/equine-thermography.htm

http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=490

http://itcnewsletter.com/2008/2008-11_images/Fleckvieh%20story%20_Eng%20UK.pdf

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Guru
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#1

Re: Infrared Thermography – Non-Invasive Diagnosis Option for Animals (Part 2)

01/07/2009 12:21 AM

In the more colorful picture (most thermally diverse so-to-speak), is that Evil Santa?!

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Guru
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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Infrared Thermography – Non-Invasive Diagnosis Option for Animals (Part 2)

01/07/2009 7:58 AM

Haha, I never really noticed before, but I see what you mean now!

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#3

Re: Infrared Thermography – Non-Invasive Diagnosis Option for Animals (Part 2)

01/08/2009 7:21 PM

As a thermographer I have imaged a few horses in the past from that have found some problems that were not notice to the naked eye. The technology is good stuff for the animal kingdom.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Infrared Thermography – Non-Invasive Diagnosis Option for Animals (Part 2)

01/09/2009 7:45 AM

Yes - with horses it can be really hard to diagnose some lameness (and other) issues, especially because animals can't vocally tell you where it hurts and what type of pain it is! Tools like this help narrow down areas for a more thorough work-up or for concentrated therapy.

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#5

Re: Infrared Thermography – Non-Invasive Diagnosis Option for Animals (Part 2)

01/09/2009 6:00 PM

Is not that amazing, how much advancement in general comes from animal care. Mineral supplementation.... to .... digital thermography. I thank you for the good presentation before, as it ties in excellently to our care to our own women, wives, mothers or daughters, which is woefully substandard now.

The present day's standard care: squeeze hard and X-ray is brutally medieval in my assessment. In particular, when in industry and animal care exqusitely sensitive thermography is available for some time. If you care at all for your women, check out the difference between a cold cyst and a hot one. Because it may mean nothing to really bad news to her.

To add insult to injury, it is the easiest thing to do. The sensor chip in your digital camera is (more) sensitive to heat than to visual stuff. It need normally a filter to get it right. So, Putting a commercial infrared lens front of it, you have an excellent, reproduceable, inexpensive thermal camera. The correct reading is around 0.1 C (0.05F) or better, resolution in the picture usually 5times better. So, anything biochemically active will light up in the picture, you cannot miss it. Ask any woman: who cares about a cold syst?!? The precision is below 1mm (1/16 in). Can you ask for more?

You worry, why you do not get it? Just chek out the pictures before, and hammer the providers mercilessly. I am with you! Read the reporting, and get mad! I am for years, and I am a guy, for my loved ones!

And don't start me on the similar neglect on guys (plenty), and all of us: just google vitamine D3 for starters. Public health neglect? 3 of them can pay all of the financial mischiefs in this year. DO NOT take this at face value: check it out, start the debate.

I stand by my statements and offering bets. So, on with the debates!!

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Guru

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Infrared Thermography – Non-Invasive Diagnosis Option for Animals (Part 2)

01/11/2009 11:09 PM

General diagnostic subject. Any commentary??

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Guru
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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Infrared Thermography – Non-Invasive Diagnosis Option for Animals (Part 2)

01/12/2009 7:33 AM

I believe they use MRIs for high-risk patients.

Getting insurance companies to cover new technologies when an existing one "works just fine" is next to impossible. As a person who deals with them regularly, I know. I recently saw a specialist for a routine follow-up. For some reason, the insurance company decided I did not meet the age criteria for that problem and attempted to let the provider bill me for the full amount. It took over six months to resolve the issue. Most medications "renew" every thirty or ninety days. I have one that renews every sixty-eight days. If I try to get my pills after thirty days, I do not get the full amount, even if I pay full price. Gotta love them.

Back to the topic - although thermography is a great tool, it's still only being used by those who can afford it when it comes to animals. I probably wouldn't use it as a diagnosis tool for my backyard pony. A $30,000 sporthorse or even more valuable racehorse, yes. An endangered zoo animal, yes. There are differences. (I understand where you're coming from, though, when you value all human life equally.)

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