Basalt vet offers exclusive computed tomography scanner |

Basalt vet offers exclusive computed tomography scanner

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
This image of a dog's elbow and leg shows the image capabilities of a new CT scanner at the Willits Veterinary Hospital in Basalt.
Courtesy image |

This summer, Willits Veterinary Hospital in Basalt installed the only dedicated veterinary computed tomography scanner on the Western Slope of Colorado.

This high-tech machinery allows users to view images three-dimensionally or “in slices, so that you don’t get that super imposition,” Willits Veterinary Hospital owner John Kuck said.

The alternative to the computed tomography scanner is the standard digital radiography machine, which fails to deliver the same thorough, comprehensive diagnosis results, Kuck said.

The CT scanner has been able to reveal elbow disease, heart-based tumors, nasal tumors, fractures, thoracic and mediastinal masses, spinal disorders and abdominal tumors, Kuck said, adding that “it’s been very helpful when planning for a surgery or trying to make a diagnosis.”

Kuck’s reason for acquiring the machine, which he said is the only CT scanner between Salt Lake City and Denver, comes from the request of his “unique clientele.”

“Aspen is a little different than other valleys,” Kuck said. “My clientele can afford this, and they want access to this technology.”

Snowmass residents Sue and Jeff Smedstad are clients of Kuck who fall under this category.

Sue recalled a visit to a radiologist four years ago, in which she and her husband were informed that their beagle, Annie, had a tumor in the right atrium of her heart and only had a week to a couple of weeks to live.

“We were just beside ourselves,” Sue Smedstad said.

Though a successful surgery allowed Annie to beat these odds, doctors recommended she have regular CT scans “to be certain they could intervene in a timely manner should the tumor continue to grow,” Smedstad said.

“This meant driving to Ft. Collins twice a year, which was hard on Annie. Dr. Kuck is Annie’s primary local vet, and we always said to him that it would be wonderful if those of us that love our pets so much would have the opportunity to have that diagnostic capability,” she said.

Smedstad said she and her husband were excited when they found out Kuck would offer a CT scanner in his office.

“Annie is the center of our lives, and we are just so grateful this can be done,” she said.