AN OTTER with kidney stones was one of the first animals to get treated with a pioneering new 3D X-ray machine at an Oxfordshire vet.

The Chipping Norton Veterinary Hospital has also welcomed a host of other animals through its doors in recent weeks to use its latest groundbreaking addition – an animal CT scanner.

The £140,000 machine produces highly-detailed 3D X-ray scans which can reveal the tiniest abnormalities in poorly pet patients.

It is thought to be the only one of its kind in Oxfordshire.

Hospital co-director and veterinary surgeon Martin Whitehead said veterinary practices often follow human medicine and treatment including, now, the use of CT scanners.

Talking of the benefits he said: “For us it means that almost all of the diagnoses have been things we would not have been able to diagnose without the machine.

“It also means pet owners won’t have to go off to somewhere like Swindon for the closest CT scanner and can get those diagnoses at a local practice.”

The Banbury Road practice installed its pioneering machine about two weeks ago and has already scanned 20 patients including an otter with kidney stones.

The scanner is a ’64-slice’ machine, meaning it is high-resolution and extremely fast, minimising the time the animal is sedated or anaesthetised.

It is particularly good for spotting skull, bone, joint, respiratory and cancer conditions.

Dr Whitehead added: “It also allows for better diagnosis for complicated surgeries so it helps to plan surgeries in advance, for example for removing tumours and seeing if a cancer has spread – and cancer is incredibly common in animals, as much as it is with us.”

The practice not only paid £140,000 for the new machine – it also had to build an extension onto the practice to house it, adding up to roughly £300,000 altogether.

It took days of installation, commissioning and testing by radiation-protection personnel, plus staff training before it could be powered up.

The West Oxfordshire practice expects to take on patients from nearby surgeries when in need of the in-depth scanner and is also offering pick-up and drop-off services in the veterinary ambulance for pets coming from other practices.