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Keywords:

  • cat;
  • computed tomography;
  • respiratory;
  • thorax

The VetMousetrap, a novel device that allows computed tomography (CT) of awake cats and provides a clinically supportive environment, is described. Ten normal cats were used to test the device for ambient internal oxygen, carbon dioxide levels, and temperature. Twenty-two awake normal cats were imaged using a 16-multi-slice helical CT unit to evaluate dose-equivalent protocols. Two different X-ray tube potentials (kV), 80 and 120, and two different helical pitches, 0.562 and 1.75, were evaluated. The signal intensity of the pulmonary parenchyma (SIlung), signal intensity of background (SIbackgr), contrast, noise, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) were calculated. Three evaluators ranked the images for sharpness of liver margins, motion, helical, and windmill artifacts. CT was successfully completed in 20 of 22 cats. No artifacts directly related to the device were detected. Overall, 75 of 80 (94%) examinations were judged to have absent or minimal motion artifact. A statistically significant difference was found for SNR (P=0.001) and CNR (P=0.001) between all protocols. The higher pitch protocols had significantly lower noise and higher SNR and CNR, lower motion artifact but greater helical artifacts. A protocol using 80 kV, 130 mA, 0.5 s, and 0.562 pitch with 1.25 mm slice thickness, and 0.625 mm slice reconstruction interval is recommended. The VetMousetrap appears to provide the opportunity for diagnostic CT imaging of the thorax of awake cats.