HERCA activities on veterinary applications are under the responsibility of the WG on Veterinary Applications (WGVA).
Set up in 2013 after interactions with European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging (ECVDI), WGVA aims at proposing a radiation protection framework for veterinary application of ionizing radiation taking into account the following principles:
- Primary focus shall be on the protection of humans, not of the animals themselves;
- Due account shall be taken of the principle of “graded approach”;
- Focus shall be on the education and training requirements for veterinary doctors and their ‘helpers’;
- The proposal shall be developed in close collaboration with representative scientific/professional societies of veterinary medicine.
The ultimate goal is to provide a solid basis for a more harmonised approach throughout Europe. This should provide better guarantees for the justified and optimised diagnosis and treatment of animals and thus also of those who are taken abroad to receive treatment.
In 2017, WGVA was able to release the guidelines on radiation protection education and training of veterinary professionals.
- Release criteria and safety measures in veterinary nuclear medicine: Within Europe, different release criteria are used for the discharge of animals after injection with radio-isotopes. In order to clarify the differences between the different countries, WGVA investigates the range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in the different countries, in collaboration with Ghent University (Belgium). A proposal to harmonise these release criteria is under discussion within the working group.
- Guidelines on protection of owners/handlers: in veterinary practice: X-ray equipment is frequently used outside of the veterinary clinic especially for the examination of horses. They are often performed using specific mobile or even hand-held X-ray equipment. These examinations are considered as ‘off-site’ procedures and require specific safety measures to ensure the protection of all participants during exposure. In order to raise awareness about these procedures and the different safety measures that should be taken into consideration during the procedure, a leaflet was prepared. The leaflet to highlight the local regulatory requirements but also gives useful practical advice about radiation protection in an off-site setting.
- Pre-purchase exams on horses: This practice is more and more common within the veterinary sector and there seems to be a strong economic interest that may accelerate in the future. It is essential that only justified X-ray images are taken in order to avoid unnecessary exposure of public and workers. A survey to map the field in the different European Countries was launched. Based on the results, the need for a common European protocol for these types of X-ray examinations could be investigated.