SPANA vets treating donkey foal

SPANA’s Veterinary Programme Advisor Hannah Davies visits Morocco to see how new equipment like digital x-ray and portable ultrasound machines are helping vets to treat even more animals.

Ouch! Do you think it’s broken?

I remember saying these words to my mum as she rushed to my assistance after I fell off my beloved miniature Shetland pony. Off we went to A&E for an x-ray of my ankle, and, lucky for me, we had a diagnosis within the hour; it was just a bad sprain. But sadly no more riding for four weeks and I was confined to crutches until the swelling had gone down.

But what if there had been no x-ray? How would a diagnosis have been made?

Unfortunately this is the reality for many of the countries we work in. Vets do not have access to diagnostic imaging equipment such as x-ray and ultrasound machines and therefore making a diagnosis can be very challenging.

getimageBut things are changing! With the ongoing wonderful support from our fantastic supporters, SPANA is hoping to provide x-ray and ultrasound equipment to all our centres in the future, and I am pleased to say that Morocco is one of the first countries on the list. SPANA have bought a digital x-ray machine and portable ultrasound machine and these have recently been sent out to Morocco.

I visited the Marrakech SPANA centre in April along with Francesca, our Veterinary Director, to provide a two-day diagnostic imaging training course to our vets. We wanted to ensure the vets had the knowledge and skills to use the new equipment to its full potential.

The vets were keen to learn, and were soon practicing with both machines, taking images and learning the basics of image interpretation… the different shades of black, white and grey that make up an image can be very confusing when you are a beginner!

getimage-1The vets were able to put their theory into practice as a young mule, lame on its right hind leg was brought into the clinic.

Both x-ray and ultrasound were performed to allow the vets to assess the bones and soft tissue structures beneath the swelling of the lower leg, and based on the findings, surgery was scheduled for the following day. Reaching a diagnosis in this case would have been impossible without the new x-ray and ultrasound equipment.

So what next…? Practice, practice, practice… the only way for the vets to learn more and get better is to use the machines regularly and keep practicing. Fran and I will, of course, be on hand to provide ongoing advice and training, and we hope to run similar courses in our other core countries in the future.

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