by Dr Ellen James, Clinton Street Veterinary Clinic, Goulburn, NSW
This unit is designed for use with dentals but I’ve found it really handy with native animals. We do a lot of WIRES work and it’s great for X-raying echidna beaks, kangaroo feet and things like that.
What’s good about it
A traditional X-ray requires the operator to gown up and for the animal to be positioned under the beam. This portable unit allows you to take an X-ray anywhere. There’s no need to remove a joey from a pouch; you can just extract its foot, position the plate and take the shot. It’s much less stressful for the animal.
The X-ray picks up very fine detail so I often use it on puppies with broken feet. There’s no need to sedate the animal specifically for the X-rays and the generator produces much less radiation than a traditional unit. We have six plates so we can take multiple shots if needed. The processing is very quick.
The generator only needs to be about 10cm from the target. The images reveal so much fine detail that it’s perfect for discerning difficult injuries such as the shattered tip of an echidna beak.
It’s a robust machine but you still have to ensure you don’t drop it or bang it against anything. Clients love it because you arrive with the unit and just point-and-shoot an X-ray. It also saves them money. The cost of a portable X-ray is less than the cost of an X-ray from the big unit in our clinic. While it’s not suitable for big animals, for little feet and wildlife injuries, it’s invaluable.
What’s not so good
The battery life isn’t amazing. A day of use and it’ll be out of power. It’s only meant to be charged for three hours which means you can’t leave it on the charger overnight.