14 December 2023

New tech at Illawarra vet giving pet owners better access to care closer to home

| Keeli Royle
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Dr Luke Michel with new pet CT machine at Fairy Meadow.

Dr Luke Michel with the new pet CT machine at Greencross Vets and the Animal Referral Hospital in Fairy Meadow. Photo: Keeli Royle.

Pet owners in the Illawarra can now access high-tech scans without having to travel to Sydney thanks to a new specialty CT machine at Greencross Vets and the Animal Referral Hospital in Fairy Meadow.

The additional service will now allow veterinarians to better diagnose more complex cases and get more in-depth insight into the conditions impacting local pets.

Greencross Vet Fairy Meadow director Dr Luke Michel said the machine provides a 360-degree x-ray and 3D imaging that can be used for a vast range of purposes, from diagnostics to planning for procedures.

“For example, if a dog has cancer, we can see if it’s spreading; if we’re looking at planning a surgery to remove a mass we can get a really good picture of how it’s situated, and it gives us a lot better detail about a lot of skeletal structures,” Dr Michel said.

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Pets need to be anesthetised so they remain still, but the scan itself only takes a few minutes, then the results are sent to an expert radiologist who analyses the images and produces a report to help determine the veterinarian’s next best course of action.

Although the use of the machines is not new, local residents have previously had to travel to bigger cities if they need the service, and many clinics have long waiting lists.

“At the moment they’ve done a lot for veterinary medicine in the specialist hospitals but they’re all up in Sydney and you have to drive, so to be able to do that in the Illawarra is terrific and saves them having to travel all the way there,” Dr Michel said.

“The closest is nearly an hour from here and a lot of these pets are having scans because they’re not particularly well so putting them in the car can be stressful for them too.”

Practitioners at the Fairy Meadow clinic have been spending the last few months undergoing training at other locations and have also been visited by specialists on-site to teach them how to get the best images.

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Now, the first patients are starting to use the machine, but they are taking it slow and choosing cases carefully while the clinic continues to expand who can operate the machine before ramping up next year.

“We’re taking the time to get used to it and we’ve done some practice scans and we’re pretty ready to go,” Dr Michel said.

“We’re still in those early stages but hopefully we’ll do more and more soon.

“We want everyone here to be able to run the machine and have the licence to do it.”

However, using the service doesn’t come cheap. The cost of the machine, along with the additional requirements, brings the bill up to the low thousands, but this is not quite as high as many other providers in larger areas.

“There’s the anaesthetic, the scan itself and then the fee we get charged from the radiologist to have a look at it so having to cover all those things,” Dr Michel explained.

However, many owners are willing to dig deep and pay the price for the best healthcare possible for their beloved pets.

To find out more or to book a consultation, contact Greencross Vet Fairy Meadow.

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