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Rosenthal Imaging and Treatment Center at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital
September 18, 2007, Volume 54, No. 4

The Rosenthal Imaging and Treatment Center (RITC) at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is now open. “We are very excited about the opening of the Commonwealth’s only oncology and imaging facility devoted entirely to veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Joan C. Hendricks, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “This facility will provide the finest in diagnostics and care for our patients as well as for referring veterinarians.” The 9,200-square-foot RITC houses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment for diagnostics, as well as a linear accelerator for radiation treatment.

“It is an honor and a privilege for the Rosenthal family to name this exceptional facility,” said Jerry Rosenthal, a member of the School’s board of overseers. “My Aunt Gladys and Uncle Alfred were committed to animal welfare, and we are proud to continue that commitment to enhancing the lives of animals.” Other generous gifts from the Bernice Barbor Foundation, Jack and Margrit McCrane, Sunny and Miriam Mandell, Gerald Shreiber and Dr. Glenn Gaulton, helped fund the center.

Initially open only to Ryan Veterinary Hospital cases, the first patient for the new MRI was Beny, a 10-year-old German shepherd from the K-9 Unit of the West Whiteland Police Department, in Pennsylvania. His partner, Officer Matt Herkner, had noticed that one of Beny’s legs was knuckling under; MRIs of his cervical spine area and his lower thorax suggested that a cyst was compressing the left side of the spinal cord; there was also evidence of degenerative disks and arthritis of the cervical spine.

In addition to the MRI, the RITC offers radiation therapy. Sir Mix-A-Lot, a 32-year-old male yellow anaconda from the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington, DE, has a life-threatening carcinoma. While much of the tumor was removed surgically, radiation therapy is a necessary next step to save his life–and so, he became the RITC’s first radiation therapy patient. Unlike most mammals, reptiles suffer few side effects from radiation therapy due to their physiology; Sir Mix-A-Lot received his final dose of radiation recently, and his tumor has decreased dramatically in size.

Veterinarians can now refer cases to the RITC, helping pets throughout the Delaware Valley and beyond. A GE 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner allows superb imaging of internal structures and provides soft tissue detail not available with conventional X-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans. The MRI is operated by a certified MRI radiology technologist, and images are interpreted by board-certified radiologists and other specialists.

Radiation therapy is delivered with a Siemens 6 MV linear accelerator that produces both high-energy photons and electron beams. Three-dimensional computer treatment planning and a custom block fabrication station allow for precise targeting of the tumor, which increases treatment effectiveness while minimizing complications with normal tissue. Treatment is performed by a board-certified radiation oncologist in conjunction with skilled radiation therapists.

At least one veterinarian, numerous certified veterinary anesthesia technicians and a MRI technologist are always on site to provide care. Vital signs of every patient are monitored with the aid of specialized equipment throughout each procedure. A centralized preparation and recovery area allows for efficient and constant observation during anesthesia and recovery.

Almanac - September 18, 2007, Volume 54, No. 4