We wanted to share this fantastic article that was written by one of our clients Jessica Lees, it provides an excellent insight into her experience of using infrared imaging for her horse Ruby and Vet-IR’s service. We would like to thank Jessica for taking the time to put this into words and help other owners understand the importance of IR technology in veterinary investigation. You can read Ruby’s full case study HERE

When Ruby started headshaking completely out of the blue one day in February 2020, I was completely at a loss. Without an obvious cause, I decided to undertake my own investigations and I came across thermography as part of my research.

From reading various papers, I learned that thermography is an effective diagnostic aid when performed correctly but that reports of accuracy are skewed by individuals using cheap, unreliable thermography cameras with little to no training on how to take accurate images. Intrigued, I searched for a suitable equine thermography company and I found Vet-IR. I was immediately put in contact with Gemma, the imaging consultant who covered my area, and we had a long chat on the phone about what I was hoping to achieve by using thermography, how to prepare Ruby for the images, what to expect on the day and how the report would be set out.

When taking the images, Gemma was incredibly patient, efficient and thorough. I received the report within 5 working days and Gemma called me to discuss the findings in more detail. From the report, it was clear that Ruby’s
issues centred in her spine and pelvis and it was suggested that the thermographic patterns exhibited were indicative of kissing spine and sacroiliac inflammation.

“Personally, I believe that, if I hadn’t had the thermography report done, Ruby’s diagnoses would have taken much longer to pin down, at the expense of her comfort and wellbeing.”

Ruby then had back X-rays and nuclear scintigraphy which correlated the thermography report findings in respect of the kissing spine but the pelvis was found to be within normal parameters on the bone scan. The kissing spine lesions were subsequently mediated with steroids but Ruby was still showing discomfort behind, such as going disunited in canter and general discomfort on palpation of the sacroiliac area, and so she was later medicated in her sacroiliac as well.

With regards to the sacroiliac issues, these were pinpointed by the thermography and correlated by Ruby’s positive reaction to receiving targeted steroidal medication to that region. No issues were found with Ruby’s head or neck via thermography, X-ray or nuclear scintigraphy. It was from the thermography report that I found that Ruby had ulcers as well as, once it was evident that she was experiencing chronic pain with her spine and pelvis, ulcers were more than likely to be a secondary condition as a result.

As well as using it as an investigative tool, I would also use thermography again for a “maintenance” report to keep an eye on the conditions previously identified.

I have continued to keep in touch with Gemma, who is clearly invested in Ruby’s progress, and I would not hesitate to recommend her and Vet-IR to other horse owners, especially those at a loss as to the cause of their horse’s symptoms. Personally, I believe that, if I hadn’t had the thermography report done, Ruby’s diagnoses would have taken much longer to pin down, at the expense of her comfort and wellbeing.

Written by Ruby’s owner, Jessica Lees