Published March 15, 2011
Volume 19, Number 3

Exxim Subsidiary Animage Brings Sophisticated Imaging to Veterinary Market 

Horst Bruning, Ph.D., is bringing new technology to pet care
with  Animage LLC.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

While there is certainly a dash of humor in the notion of a CAT scan for dogs, it is also a very serious subject--for pet owners, veterinarians, and the Hacienda company that has pioneered this new technology.

The CT, or CAT (for computed axial tomography), scan “is one of the most often used modalities in human diagnostic imaging,” explains Horst Bruning, Ph.D. and President of Exxim Computing Corp. Founded in 2002 and located on Hopyard Road, Exxim specializes in software for the medical and scientific imaging industry, in particular three-dimensional image reconstruction for x-rays—used in making dental implants or for post-trauma reconstruction, for example.

A few years ago Bruning was looking to apply the company's expertise beyond this tightly focused niche. It was a challenge. “For a small company it is very difficult to develop products and sell against the large companies” in the medical imaging field, he observes. The veterinary market, on the other hand, was “not a huge center of interest for the big guys.”

The fact that regulatory requirements for animal devices are less demanding than the lengthy and costly approval track for their human counterparts was a big attraction. Bruning's status as a pet owner also influenced his decision to forge ahead in this new direction. His family has a dog and a cat, and his wife is a biologist, so animal health is a topic close to his heart.

Cost was another key impetus to develop a dedicated veterinary machine. Previously, the only option for animals was to bring them to a human imaging center early in the morning, before regular patients were scheduled. The $1,000-plus price tag of that procedure presented a significant opportunity for savings.

Exxim established a subsidiary, Animage LLC, to offer its state-of-the-art imaging technology to the veterinary market. The resulting product, FIDEX, does for pets what the larger CT scans do for humans. “The technique can detect cancer, spinal disorders, etc., and is a great tool for surgeons,” Bruning remarks. It also provides a non-invasive and much less painful alternative to endoscopy, which had been the only way to diagnose a fairly common canine problem, a fungal infection in the nose.

“The dog’s nose is extremely complicated, and an infection there can’t be seen in a normal x-ray,” he explains. “If it isn’t noticed, it can destroy the nose, so the CT scan is very useful.”

The first FIDEX unit was installed about a year and a half ago in a veterinary office in Dublin. Now that production has ramped up, sales are taking off worldwide, thanks to the company’s web presence. The devices are assembled and tested in the Animage facility on Stoneridge Drive, from components manufactured elsewhere, for the most part in Oregon. “We don’t bend any metal here, but we also don’t believe that manufacturing can only be done in China,” Bruning comments.

Now, instead of competing with the giants, Animage has a unique specialty product to offer.  “Ours is the only CT imaging device in the world specifically for the veterinarian market,” he concludes.

For more information, visit www.animage.com


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