Selection, Acquisition, and Incorporation of a Portable Computed Tomography Unit into Two Zoologic Medical Practices: Pros, Cons, and Associated Costs
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2019
Benjamin N. Nevitt1, DVM, DACZM; Matthew E. Kinney2, DVM, DACZM; Patrick J. Morris1, DVM, DACZM
1San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA, USA; 2San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Escondido, CA, USA


As the use of computed tomography (CT) in zoologic veterinary medicine has become more common, many zoologic practices are still limited to saving advanced imaging for high-profile animals or difficult cases, as transport to offsite facilities with CT comes with many challenges. Safety, logistics, and convenience are all more attainable if CT technology is on-site. However, the upgrades and cost required to install a traditional CT unit in an existing hospital are significant.

In 2017, veterinarians from San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG) began the process of purchasing a CT for both the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park that would provide high-quality, diagnostic CT scans for the variety of species in both collections, while also not requiring major renovations to either existing hospital. A systematic approach was used to evaluate potential scanners, focusing on study quality, ability to accommodate the collection’s species diversity, integration with existing facilities, and ease of operation. SDZG was able to purchase and install two portable CT scanners (BodyTom®, NeuroLogica Corp, subsidiary of Samsung Corp., Danvers, MA, USA), which fit the criteria for the needs of the organization.

This scanner is a 32-slice CT scanner with a large bore (85-cm gantry and 60-cm field of view). It is battery-powered, which allows use in multiple rooms of each hospital. The unit can charge from a standard electrical outlet and is, itself, lead-lined, requiring minimal facility modifications. It weighs 3,510 pounds and requires a firm, flat surface for operation. The scanner has intuitive operation, allowing many veterinarians and veterinary technicians at each facility the ability to operate the scanner. However, the scanner does have limitations, and the cost for the units and service was significant.

Current applications, costs, future projects, and other advantages and disadvantages of this portable CT compared to traditional CT scanners will be discussed further.


San Diego Zoo Global graciously thanks the Alt Estate for its support, which allowed for acquisition and installation of a CT scanner at both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The authors thank the staff of both hospitals for their efforts to learn and integrate this technology into their daily practice.


Speaker Information
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Benjamin N. Nevitt, DVM, DACZM
San Diego Zoo
San Diego, CA, USA

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