Radiology specialists take us inside the bears

08 January 2020

This December the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre received a visit from Nic Hayward a specialist in Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging. Radiology and ultrasound are two ways of seeing what’s going on inside a bear without the need for invasive and risky surgery. The images that these techniques provide help tell a story about what’s going on inside the bears at our rescue centres. A specialist radiologist is able to analyse the images to build accurate diagnosis for several different kinds of internal ailments. 

Nic Hayward is a 1986 Edinburgh graduate and spent several years in general practice before specialising in diagnostic imaging at Cambridge University. She gained the RCVS Diploma in Radiology in 2003 and the European Diploma in Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging in 2004.

In 2004/5 Nic was Lecturer in Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Zurich, before returning to private referral practice in the UK. She still lectures extensively on continuing professional development courses in the UK and abroad, and has co-authored book chapters and other veterinary radiological publications. Nic set up her practice Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging Ltd in 2007 and is Director of the company and we’re incredibly grateful for her support.

Two of the bears analysed were our most recent residents Tuan and Valerie who were in for their first full health checks. Fortunately during Nic’s visit no serious problems were identified in the ultrasound imaging. Some thickening of the gallbladder walls was observed in a number of bears but this is being monitored and probably stems from the bears’ history of bile extraction from the gallbladder before they were rescued from bile farms.

Nic Hayward is discussing with Animals Asia's Senior Vet Shaun and Vet Intern Hai Kim Lam

Animals Asia is very privileged to receive volunteer support from a number of absolutely amazing veterinary specialists from around the world. One of our regular supporters is another diagnostic imaging specialist Natalie Webster.

Natalie graduated from Massey University in 2002. After completing a small animal internship at Massey University and working in private practice in New Zealand and Australia, she completed her residency in Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging at the Animal Health Trust, UK. In 2009 she became a specialist in Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging.

Natalie Webster (2nd from L), together with Animals Asia's Senior Vet Emily Drayton and nurses, is looking at the bear

Natalie lives in Melbourne and started her practice Darkroom Veterinary Imaging in 2011 with the aim of providing a personalised teleradiology service. She enjoys all aspects of diagnostic imaging with a particular interest in cross sectional imaging.

Natalie and Darkroom Veterinary Imaging have provided pro bono consultancy to Animals Asia for the last 10 years. Their advice has enabled Animals Asia to provide the best possible veterinary care for hundreds of bears rescued from the bear bile industry in Vietnam and China. Bears who have been rescued from the bile industry suffer from a variety of health problems and their analysis of radiographs, CT and MRI studies assists in the bears’ recovery after decades of cruel bile extraction to lead active, happy lives.

Natalie Webster (middle), together with Animals Asia's Senior Vet Emily Drayton and nurses, is looking at the bear

Natalie said: 

“Over the years it has been a privilege to be able to help out in a small way by reading the radiographs, CT and ultrasound images.  It is really lovely to be able to offer assistance in imaging interpretation for the bears.”

Animals Asia owes Nic, Natalie and countless other passionate, animal loving veterinary specialists a debt of thanks for their generous support and life saving skills. Their work, made possible by donors from around the world really is the definition of kindness in action.