Thank You for Stopping By!

On behalf of everyone at the Veterinary MRI + Radiotherapy Center of New Jersey we would like to thank you for stopping by our booth at the L’Oreal Your Dog is Worth it Too or the Mutts Mania event! We want you to know your time spent with us was appreciated and we hope you learned something new by stopping by to chat with us. We had a wonderful time meeting you and your pet(s)!

Below you will find the winners of the raffles for both events:

Raffle Winners!

L’Oreal Your Dog is Worth it Too – held August 17, 2013

  • Laura from Monmouth, NJ
  • Tom from Red Bank, NJ

Mutts Mania – held September 15, 2013

  • Mark from Freehold, NJ
  • Shirley from Kenvil, NJ

Thank you to everyone who entered the raffle and congratulations to the winners! We hope you enjoy a great night at the movies and the candy!

Services Offered

At the Veterinary MRI + Radiotherapy Center of New Jersey we offer advanced diagnostic imaging, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), cat scans (CT), and ultrasound (US), as well as, radiation therapy (RT).
MRIs are frequently performed on the back, neck, brain, or stifle (knee) of patients, although other areas can be scanned. They can be very helpful to identify a herniated disk, cancer, infection, inflammation, torn ligaments, and many more disease processes.

Whereas an MRI is excellent for looking at soft tissues, such as the spinal cord, brain, and ligaments, a CT scan is particularly useful in cases where bone, lung, liver, spleen, or blood flow need to be evaluated. Some instances where a CT scan may be indicated are for nasal discharge, bleeding from the nose, swelling of or around bone, liver shunts, heart abnormalities, fluid or air around the lungs, and to look for lung tumors.
Ultrasounds can be performed on many parts of the body, but are most commonly performed on the abdomen or the heart. This imaging modality is used for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common uses include vomiting, decreased appetite, increased thirst or urination, looking for fluid in the abdomen or chest, and to evaluate for heart disease.

To ensure that the appropriate test is performed and that prerequisite blood work is run, referral by a veterinarian is required.

Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to treat certain types of cancer. At the Center we offer External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT). As its name suggests, the treatment is delivered from a radiation source outside of the patient’s body. The radiation is delivered by a linear accelerator. The unit at the Center is capable of treating with both electrons and photons. Length of treatment varies from as few as 3 treatments to as many as 21 treatments. The entire treatment takes just minutes per session. To ensure the appropriate type and length of treatment is selected, consultation with a veterinary oncologist is required.

The services offered at the Veterinary MRI + Radiotherapy Center of New Jersey are those which only a small percentage of the pet population need at any given time. That being said, if your own pet or that of one of your friends or family members is ever in a situation where they could benefit from our services, we’re here for you and strive to make the experience as positive and stress-free as possible.

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Diagnostic Imaging

While the summer has come and gone here at the Veterinary MRI + Radiotherapy Center of NJ we are very excited for the fall as we have two changes to announce. The first is extended hours to better serve our patients and clients. We are now open Monday thru Friday from 7:30am to 5:15pm. The second is the addition to our staff of Dr. Sandra Simko. Dr. Simko will be our full-time dedicated Center Veterinarian. Dr. Simko graduated from Rutgers with a dual degree in Biological Sciences and Criminal Justice. She then went on to complete her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and Master of Public Health (MPH) from the University of Florida. After graduating, Dr. Simko completed an internship at Oradell Animal Hospital. We are thrilled to have Dr. Simko as a valued member of the Veterinary Center team as we continue to offer the most advanced diagnostic imaging and technologically available radiation treatment options for your loved pet companions. Here is Dr. Simko’s take on an interesting CatScan (CT) we performed:

Diagnostic imaging uses noninvasive methods, such as radiography and sonography, to create images of specific parts of the body to help diagnose disease. The Veterinary MRI + Radiotherapy Center of NJ offers diagnostic imaging via MRI, CT and ultrasound (US) to referred clients. The importance of these can be difficult to comprehend to the lay person, but take for example a recent case that was presented here. Charlie is a young, mixed breed dog who presented for a cat scan (CT) of a wound on his chest. Approximately 1 year prior, he had a spontaneous pneumothorax, a life threatening condition where air surrounds the lungs, preventing them from expanding. A CT identified a pulmonary bulla, an air-filled space that had allowed for air to leak from his lungs and cause his pneumothorax. He underwent surgery at that time where the damaged part of his lung was removed and he recovered uneventfully. A few months later there was a wound on his side, which did not heal with antibiotics, and was explored surgically. At the time no cause for the wound was identified and following surgery he did well for a few more months. Unfortunately the wound on his side returned and another CT was performed where contrast agent was put inside his wound, which helped identify a draining track. Another surgical exploration of the wound was performed and a piece of plant material was removed from Charlie. It is thought that just prior to the pneumothorax, Charlie inhaled the piece of plant material, which travelled to his lungs causing the bulla, then continued to migrate into his abdominal cavity. Ultimately his body tried to eliminate the foreign material, which caused the recurrent wound on his side and draining track. Through the use of diagnostic imaging, the cause of Charlie’s pneumothorax and draining track were identified and he is now doing great at home!

Another service offered at the Veterinary MRI + Radiotherapy Center of NJ is radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is a newer treatment modality in veterinary medicine, which is rapidly becoming more and more utilized in the treatment of cancer. Our linear accelerator (the machine that delivers the radiation) is capable of treating certain cancers with either photons or electrons, depending on the type of tumor, and often in as few as three treatments. We have recently started to use dental molds to decrease the amount of time necessary to ensure patients are precisely positioned prior to treatment. Our next blog will go into further detail on this innovative new technique!

The services offered at the Veterinary MRI and Radiotherapy Center of NJ are those which only a small percentage of the pet population need at any given time. That being said, if your pet is ever in a situation where they could benefit from our services, we’re here for you and your pet and strive to make the experience as positive and stress-free as possible.

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Two Sides of the Same Coin: Brachytherapy and External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)

Radiation Therapy can generally be split into two categories: Brachytherapy and External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT).

Brachytherapy is the method of treatment in which the radioactive source is placed within the patient’s body (‘brachy’ comes from the ancient Greek ‘brachys’, meaning ‘short’). Brachytherapy is most often administered through an invasive surgical procedure. Historically, brachytherapy was performed using live radioactive sources (Caesium-137, Iridium-192, Paladium-103, etc.). More recently, however, electric brachytherapy units are being introduced into the veterinary clinical setting. Electronic brachytherapy involves placement of miniature x-ray tubes, in the place of radioactive seeds, into applicators within the patient’s body and often within the actual tumor itself.

On the other side, you have External Beam Radiation Therapy (or EBRT). As its name suggests, the treatment is delivered from a radiation source outside of the patient’s body. Most EBRT treatments are delivered using a linear accelerator. The linear accelerator has the capability to deliver several different modalities and treatment techniques: photon treatments, which include 3D conformal plans, Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, and Stereotactic Radiation Therapy; and electron therapy for superficial lesions and post-operative tumor bed irradiation. EBRT treatments are the standard of care in the fields of both human and veterinary radiation therapy.

Below, you will find some of the advantages of each modality:

Advantages of Brachytherapy

  • Limited long term side effects due to lower energy
  • When planned properly, can spare the maximum amount of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor
  • Treatment can be delivered over the course of one week, on an inpatient basis

Advantages of External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)

  • Fast, painless outpatient procedure. A typical radiation treatment lasts 20 minutes.
  • Does not carry the standard risks or complications of surgery (as in the case of brachytherapy), such as surgical bleeding, post-operative pain, or the risk of stroke, heart attack or blood clot.
  • It can be used to treat a much wider array of tumors
  • Due to recent improvements in technology , such as Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Stereotactic Radiation Therapy (SRT), enhanced tumor dose can be achieved while lowering the dose to surrounding healthy tissue
  • In certain patients, specifically those receiving Stereotactic Radiation Therapy (SRT), a course of treatment can be delivered in only three days.

In summary, the more tools that we have to battle our pets’ cancer, the better off they will be. The use of electronic brachytherapy in the veterinary setting is an exciting step in the merging of human and veterinary medicine. Hopefully, within the next several years, we will begin to see some data on its efficacy in the treatment of animals. Unfortunately, right now there is very limited practical application for brachytherapy in dogs and cats. Although recently approved by the FDA for early stage breast cancer in women, there is insufficient evidence in peer-reviewed literature to support its use in animals.

Our advice is to keep researching treatment options until you’ve found one that you’re comfortable with…and remember, the most important tool a pet can have in their fight against cancer is an informed owner.

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Linear Accelerator

When we installed our new linear accelerator (LINAC) last year, there was much to be excited about. The addition of our new LINAC has allowed us to take radiation therapy to the next level in veterinary medicine. Our new addition, the Varian 21EX high-performance linear accelerator, is fully equipped with an integrated multi-leaf collimator system (MLC), an electronic portal imaging system, and remote treatment couch control. The Varian 21EX model is the treatment unit of choice in cancer centers throughout the world and it enables us to deliver a range of treatment protocols, from Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) to Stereotactic Radiation Therapy (SRT), as well as conventional therapy techniques.

Varian 21EX High-Performance
Linear Accelerator

Of the many new features available for our patients, one of the most exciting is the multi-leaf collimator (MLC). The MLC provides us with the ability to deliver Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) treatments (see video below). IMRT, the standard of care in human radiation therapy, allows us to eradicate the targeted cancer cells while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue. The importance of this cannot be overstated. This means that, in many cases, we are now able to give maximum dose to tumors without being limited by neighboring critical structures such as the spinal cord, the eyes, or the heart.

The video below is from cancercenter.com. It gives a good visualization of how IMRT treatments work. Please note that, although the video depicts a human patient being treated, IMRT is just as beneficial for our feline and canine patients.

Click here to watch the video on cancercenter.com.

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Computed Tomography and Surgical Planning

As you may have noticed, we took a little break from blogging to absorb some recent changes at the Veterinary Center. One of those changes we are thrilled to announce is that we recently hired Mike Jones to join our staff as the full-time dedicated Director of Radiation Therapy. While Mike Jones comes to us from Hackensack University Medical Center, he is no stranger to the Veterinary MRI and Radiotherapy Center of New Jersey family as he has been one of our part-time radiation therapists since 2007. We are thrilled to have Mike with us 5 days a week (Monday – Friday) as we continue to offer the most advanced technologically available radiation treatment options for your beloved pet companions.

Please check back often as we will once again begin sharing snippets and stories of the goings on at the Veterinary Center. First up, an interesting Computed Tomography (CT Scan) and Surgical Planning Case that helped Harlee:

CT Scan and Surgical Planning

Harlee is a 5 year old, female spayed Doberman Pincher that presented to the Veterinary MRI and Radiotherapy Center for evaluation of a persistent draining tract in the ventral left thorax. Approximately 8 months prior to presentation, Harlee sustained a penetrating wound to the left ventral chest. Several small pieces of tree bark were removed from the wound on her initial presentation to the local veterinarian.

Over the course of eight months, Harlee had several surgical procedures to clean and explore the wound, as persistent draining was noted by the owner. However, no foreign material was identified.

A CT scan was performed to assess for foreign material and the following images were obtained.

Arrows pointing to draining tract

Arrows pointing to foreign material

Arrows outlining draining tract and foreign material

Discussion

Harlee’s CT scan allowed Harlee’s veterinarian to visualize what could not be seen during his 8 month period of intermittent medical concerns. Based on the results of the CT, surgery was performed to resolve the draining tract and remove the piece of persistent wood material. Harlee then went on an extensive course of antibiotics. Fortunately, Harlee continues to dwell at home.

If you have any questions regarding the value of CT or MRI evaluation for a particular patient please do not hesitate to contact our facility to discuss the case prior to requesting an imaging study.

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First Photon Patient with the New LINAC!!

We are happy to say that the first patient to be recieving photon radiation therapy is our new friend Brody! Brody is a 4 year old, medium sized, mixed breed dog who is being treated for a infiltrative lipoma on his neck. Due to the treatment type he does require anesthesia, and so far he is not a fan of us, but he seems to be coming around. He’s an adorable little pup who we can all see has a very sweet side. We just need to let it come out :) We all look forward to seeing him progress through treatments.

Brody!

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First Electron Patient With the New LINAC!!!

The best Greyhound ever!

We are pleased to announce that our first patient to recieve Electron Radiation Therapy is Dante!! He is an 8 year old Greyhound undergoing surgical scar treatment for a Grade 1 Nerve Sheath Tumor. He is the sweetest greyhound we have ever met and astonishingly enough, this isn’t his first time recieving radiation therapy from us. Two years ago he underwent treatment for an inflammed soft tissue sarcoma and did very well. Now he boards with us for the days when he’s treated and we love having him. We look forward to seeing him progress.

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Biscuit the Golden

Biscuit the Golden Retriever is a 1 year old extremely energetic puppy, as most are :) He came to us last week to have a CT Scan of his elbow for previously diagnosed elbow dysplasia. This disease is common amongst large breed dogs. He had undergone multiple stem-cell treatments and was having his elbows re-evaluated for improvement. It was sad to see this very happy and playful puppy having to be confined and sometimes even given a mild sedative just to keep from causing further damage to his joints while undergoing treatments. But in the end, it’s what’s best for him on the road to better health. We hope all goes well, and he can return soon to being the crazy, hyper Golden he was meant to be!

You would never know his elbows hurt

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Chiari Malformation

We have been seeing a lot of King Charles Cavelier Spanieles recently for this problem so we wanted to provide a little education about this disease. The information is taken from The Canine Chiari Institute at Long Island Veterinary Specialist’s website.

Definition

What is chiari-like malformation (also known as COMS)?

Chiari-like malformation (CLM), formerly known as Caudal Occipital Malformation Syndrome (COMS) is a condition in which part of the brain, the cerebellum, descends out of the skull through the opening at its base, called the foramen magnum, crowding the spinal cord.

Clinical Signs

Thursday, 03 June 2010 23:41

The hallmarks of this disorder are pain and abnormal sensations like itchiness. We can usually tell if a dog is in pain with CLM/SM. An affected dog will often cry out and adopt a “nose down” position when his/her neck is hurting. Although neck pain is very common with this disorder, we have also seen a large number of dogs who exhibited back pain as well. Dogs with CLM/SM often appear to have increased sensitivity to being touched.

Treatment

Does my dog need treatment?
The answer to this question is multifactorial. The age of the dog tends to be a very important consideration in many instances. Young dogs with clinical signs should be considered for surgical treatment, while older dogs with minimal to no clinical signs could be managed medically or surgically. The severity of CLM/SM plays a role in this decision.

After Treatment

What can I expect after surgery?

Cranioplasty with FMD appears to be well tolerated in dogs with CLM/SM with very few complications being noted. Most dogs are hospitalized for 4-5 days depending on their clinical condition. Because cerebellar decompression is immediate, intracranial clinical signs can be expected to resolve faster than those related to SM. The reduction in syrinx size is paramount to clinical recovery.

Figure 1 (the picture below): Sagittal T2 weighted MRI from a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with features of Chiari-like malformation. The small arrows point to a lesion within the spinal cord that is consistent with a fluid cavity (syringohydromyelia or SHM). The large arrowhead points to bone indenting the caudal cerebellum and displacing it out the foramen magnum. Picture courtesy of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine


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Clinic Cat

Yesterday, we performed a CT scan on a clinic cat for one of our local veterinary hospitals. Her name was Madeline, a sweet 10 year old domestic short hair. She was having difficulty breathing and the local vet found a mass in her right lung. The goal of the CT was to fully assess the the region affected by the mass and to determine the possibilityto remove it if possible. Unfortunately, the CT results showed that Madeline had a large lung tumor that had also spread to many other parts of her lungs. Given that this disease has a very poor outcome, the clinic veterinarian that assumed responsibility for Madeline decided it would be best to humanely euthanize her. She was euthanized in the hospital shortly thereafter.

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