Cutting-Edge Equine X-ray Detector May be the New Jewel of the Triple Crown


In a sport where the athletes running for glory are often separated by tenths of a second, every advantage counts. Optimal health must peak at precise times, and those tasked with the care of these delicate contestants must leverage every resource available to be competitive.

Bowed tendons, splints, sesamoid, knee and condylar fractures, bucked shins, and bone chips in knee or fetlock are only the short list. A host of soft tissue injuries can also occur where limited blood flow makes early diagnosis tricky, since heat and swelling may not even occur to signal issues. Tendon and ligament injuries that intermittently flare can go unnoticed until damage is severe. 

Enter Reveal™ 35C, Waterloo Ontario Canada’s answer to early detection of both bone and soft-tissue damage in elite equine athletes.

“We have developed a portable color X-ray detector capable of generating both bone and soft-tissue images without motion artifacts, similar to dual exposure dual-energy systems,” said KA Imaging’s CTO and founderDr. Karim S. Karim. “This detector, however, is multi-energy, so is designed to obtain a multi-energy X-ray image and very high DQE digital radiography images from a single exposure.” 

Screening using dual energy X-ray imaging has been around for forty years, however, it has suffered from performance issues limiting its adoption. Dual-energy X-ray machines demand that a veterinarian bring the horse to a fixed radiology room to obtain two images of each target area: one for bone, one for soft tissue. The horse can move frequently during the required time and the shots become motion-blurred, forcing retakes. 

Single shot imaging, a key component of multi-energy X-ray systems, helps to eliminate motion artifacts by reducing the time needed to acquire one exposure. Clear, unblurred, images can now be used for diagnosis where bone and soft tissue images are differentiated but maintain the same perspective view.

Using Reveal 35C’s multi-energy functionality, the veterinarian can potentially eliminate the need for other diagnostic procedures such as MRI and ultrasound, eliminating the need to sedate the horse and reducing time-sensitive diagnostic deliberation when immediate action could be critical.

Routine maintenance is the area where Reveal™ 35C could really shine. Were it incorporated into regular check-ups, since the time required for its use is minimal, a precise record of the ongoing musculoskeletal development and condition of each athlete could be maintained, thereby hopefully catching latent issues prior to full manifestation, allowing training regimens and racing schedules to be altered before injury occurs. A prime example is early diagnosis of synovitis, which may be caused by minute bone or cartilage fragments or fractures that when caught and repaired early, prevent the development of synovitis in the first place. 

“The best vets in the racehorse industry will adopt new practices designed to prevent or quickly catch issues in the legs of racehorses, not just in preservation of an ancient and undeniably exciting sport, but mostly for the love of the horse, the real reason the sport is great and has persevered, Karim saidReveal™ 35C is ideally suited for this purpose, with its rugged construction, and its ability to function in alternate acquisition mode in barns where the WiFi signal may be weak in certain areas.”

Reveal™ 35C is also lightweight for portability, and its low-dose radiation operation is beneficial to the veterinary doctor—and also the animal—allowing for regular use. 


About KA Imaging 

A spin-off from the University of Waterloo, KA Imaging is a Canadian company that specializes in developing innovative X-ray imaging technologies and systems, providing solutions to the medical, veterinary and NDT markets. The company has successfully developed a line of innovative X-ray imaging products in the areas of phase contrast micro-computed tomography, ultra-high spatial resolution X-ray detectors and large area digital, dual-energy X-ray material separation detectors.