OCT – a revolution in human health care, now also available for animals

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Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has revolutionized human medicine as it makes the diagnosis of eye diseases significantly easier and has increased our understanding of their causes. OCT, as part of AniCura’s long-term commitment to shaping the veterinary care of the future, has been acquired by the AniCura Albano Animal Hospital in Danderyd with financial support from one of AniCura’s owners – the Animal Hospital Foundation in Greater Stockholm. The instrument is unique in veterinary clinical practice in the Nordic region.

Previously in veterinary care, eye photography using OCT was primarily used for research purposes. Acquisition of the OCT represents a unique upgrade and refinement of outpatient eye diagnostics at the AniCura Albano Animal Hospital.

The investment will benefit animal patients in many ways, mainly through the ability to make more accurate examinations, distinguish between various eye diseases and make safer diagnoses. The equipment will contribute to improved, more detailed follow-up of patients under treatment as well as patients with specific chronic eye diseases.

OCT can be likened to sonar, but which uses light waves instead of sound waves. Different wavelengths provide information from various tissues and can distinguish the retina’s various layers depending on how the light is reflected. Using this data, a computer generates cross-sectional images of the retina, cornea or optic nerve. OCT makes it possible to process the images in many different ways, for example the computer can produce three dimensional images. OCT is particularly good at detecting hereditary eye diseases, which is of great importance in animal breeding. There are a number of diseases of the retina in dogs, such as PRA where veterinarians are able to verify their diagnoses with the aid of OCT.

“OCT provides us with a fantastic ability to examine the eyes of our patients, especially those with hereditary retinal diseases. The unique ability of the equipment to generate a cross-sectional image of the retina allows us to determine which layer of the retina the change is present in, and to what extent. This invaluable information was previously only available post mortem,” says Titti Sjödahl-Essén, specialist canine and feline ophthalmologist and Head veterinarian at AniCura Albano Animal Hospital.

How does a typical examination proceed?

Before the examination, the patient is given eye drops to dilate the pupils and make the retina clearly visible. Most animals need a tranquillizing injection so they remain completely still during the examination. This is a non-invasive procedure and is not painful for the patient. The examination is over relatively quickly if the animal remains still and the eye does not move too much. In contrast to human examinations, we cannot ask animals to look in different directions and this makes it more difficult to examine certain parts such as the outer edges of the retina. An examination takes around 20 minutes to complete.

“We look forward to OCT becoming an excellent addition to our other eye instruments and even more accurate diagnoses,” says Titti Sjödahl-Essén.