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Coming soon to a vet clinic near you: Kitty-CAT scans

January 20th, 2003, 02:11 PM
Coming soon to a vet clinic near you: Kitty-CAT scans
Sherwood Park businessman acquires used machine to diagnose pet ailments

Allyson Jeffs, Journal Business Writer
The Edmonton Journal

With CAT scan technology well-established, kitty-CAT scans will not be far behind if businessman Henk de Laive has his way.

He's poised to open a CAT scan clinic next month so felines, canines and other small critters can access the diagnostic imaging technology normally reserved for people. Using a 10-year-old scanner acquired from the Misericordia Hospital about a year ago, de Laive plans to offer the service to veterinarians treating family pets.

"It slices up the body, in images and they can discover all kinds of tumours and problems with organs," he said. "If an animal is hit by a car, they can precisely see what organs are damaged."

For $50 to $100, the scan will provide 25 to 30 images which can be used in diagnosing pet problems. Fluffy or Fido must lie still for the procedure and may have to be sedated.

De Laive's company, Scanimal Ltd. is located in Sherwood Park and can't handle livestock, but de Laive hopes his service catches on among small-animal vets.

"It's something new. It's never been done before," he said, acknowledging the enterprise is experimental. Because of advances in human technology, his CAT scan is no longer suitable for a busy hospital.

"The images are as good as the CAT scanners from these days. But it's too slow. The hospitals want to do 40 to 45 patients a day and this machine can maybe do 20 to 25."

Interest in providing pets with the same advanced diagnostic techniques their human companions enjoy has been rising rapidly for several years, said Duane Landals, registrar of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association.

Increasingly, pet owners want to ensure a long, healthy life for their four-legged friends.

"They are willing to go as far as they can in terms of determining what's wrong with them and treating them, if it's appropriate," Landals said. "Extending the healthy, functional, happy life of that pet is very important to people."

He wasn't familiar with de Laive's plans and wasn't aware of a similar diagnostic service operating in the Edmonton area.

The Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon opened a magnetic resonance imaging clinic this fall, the only one in Western Canada for small animals. While MRIs function with a giant magnet, CAT scans use radiation to provide the internal images of the body.

Scanimal is owned by de Laive's company, Medscan Electronics Ltd., which services medical X-ray equipment.

He obtained the Misericordia's CAT scanner for the cost of removing and transporting it. With the help of a $20,000 loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada, he has been renovating space for the machine and installing it. He hopes to begin scanning furry patients as early as next month.

Initially, his son will operate the machine, but if interest picks up, a full-time technician may be hired.

Copyright 2003 Edmonton Journal