When Mesker Park Zoo’s veterinarian needs to use sonography equipment as a tool to help diagnose the zoo’s ailing animals, she contacts Claudine Fairchild, clinical associate professor of diagnostic medical sonography, who operates the equipment while the vet diagnoses the problem.
“I complete the sonographic examination of the area of interest under the direct supervision of Dr. Carrie Ullmer, and have utilized sonography to scan the liver, kidneys, pancreas, abdominal vessels, urinary bladder, lungs and thyroid,” she says. “Surprisingly, most organs that I’ve scanned in the animal patients are similar in appearance and position to what I’m used to seeing in human patients.”
In the past couple of years, Fairchild’s participated in scanning the bodies of a jaguar, lemur, Sun bear, sand cat, North African crested porcupine, Coatimundi, Colobus monkey, Spring Hass, Clouded leopard and more; an opportunity she credits to being at USI. “Very little sonography is done outside clinic or hospital settings. I would never have had the opportunity to do this if I’d not been in an academic position,” she said. “It’s a unique experience to be able to use my skills in a different way on a different type of patient.”
Fairchild says there’s an opportunity for USI sonography students to participate in scanning animals at the zoo,
noting doing so “opens their minds to other possibilities.” The College has helped the zoo in other ways too, by donating a gel warmer and providing expired gels and steroid packs, items that can’t be used in human clinical settings, for the procedures.