Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Slice of Life: Behind-the-Scenes of Equine Anatomy with Dr. Christoph von Horst

Suppose you could suspend the animation of a bird or a fish or a preserving its anatomy in whatever angle or gesture or exposure you wished. That's the power that Germany's Christoph von Horst wields in his plastination laboratory.

Everything that was once alive not only lives again, but lives forever. It may no longer be living and breathing, but it's catching light and revealing its form to anyone who cares to have a look. And it has taken on an artistic, minimalist power.

You've heard plastinate slices of hoof tissue called "living X-rays" before; now we have living MRIs! (image © Christoph von Horst and Hoofcare Publishing)

Dr. von Horst's company, HC Biovision, is the world's leader in preserving anatomical specimen for educational and exhibition purposes. We are fortunate that he finds the horse's foot especially fascinating. He has been encasing microscopically thin slices of hoof tissue in Lucite for several years now, and has created a portfolio of hoof pathology to rival any in a museum.

A horizontal section of plastinated hoof tissue reveals a slice-by-slice tour of a horse's hoof anatomy (image © Christoph von Horst and Hoofcare Publishing)

Dr. von Horst will visit the USA this month; he will be helping Hoofcare Publishing introduce a new collection of plastinated hoof tissue specimen at the International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot in West Palm Beach, Florida this weekend, October 29-31.

He visited previously this year to speak at the international plastination conference at the University of Toledo and the annual convention of university veterinary anatomists at Cornell University.

Keep a hoof in your pocket; this new technique, called the "basic hoof" is impregnated with plastic but not cased in Lucite. Basic hooves cost only $50US (plus shipping) and will fit in your pocket. No two are alike!

Each plastinate is treated to resist light damage and will not fade. The cost on most blocks is $200. Most are about an inch thick and will stand up on their own.  But relief "basic" hooves start at $50--without plastic casing, just plastic impregnating the hoof tissue--and the "sheet", or thin plastic casings are $95 each.

Plastinates have many applications in the way that professionals interact with each other and with clients. On another level, they are used in anatomy education and on still another, for corporate use in detailing product or service details. When a veterinarian needs to explain why a horse with a fetlock problem might benefit from a course of Legend, this "slice" is an inexpensive, indestructible, reusable and portable tool for showing a typical fetlock to a client. (Christoph von Horst image)

Please contact Hoofcare and Lameness if you are looking for a unique gift, award, trophy, or a real treat for your own study of the hoof. Navicular damage and chronic laminitis samples are available as real models or in laminated poster form for reference, with areas of interest like the toe of a laminitic foot or a cross-section of a navicular bone and its ligaments greatly enlarged.  Sheet plastinates of the distal limbs of foals clearly show the growth plates and are perfect for explaining to horse owners why their horses need therapy sooner instead of later.

Dr Denoix's book is the perfect companion to plastinated specimen. Highly recommended for reference for academic or professional use of specimen or diagnostic images. It is simply "THE" book to have on hand. Call 978 281 3222 or email Hoofcare + Lameness to order your copy. A superb gift!