Tools of the trade: Vacuumat

positioning mat

by Dr Helen Fitzpatrick, Vasse Vets, WA

Vacuumat is a positioning mat that is placed under a patient. It has a valve at one end and comes supplied with a pump. Once the patient is on the mat, the pump is attached to suck out the air. The mat will collapse and conform to the animal’s shape.

What’s good about it

If you need to X-ray a leg and want it positioned at a certain angle, you can hold the leg at that angle and get somebody else to pump out the air. The mat closes around the limb, becomes very firm and holds the leg in the correct position.

Vaccuumat comes in two different sizes. The smaller one is suitable for cats while the larger one is for animals up to the size of a medium dog. Both mats can be used together if required.

The mat is not heated but helps keep the animal warm as they’re not in contact with the cold table. The mat is also radiolucent so as not to interfere with the X-rays.

It’s not machine-washable but can be run under a tap and wiped down. The material is tough and grippy. Once the animal is in position, it won’t slide away or move.

We originally purchased one Vacuumat but it was so handy, we purchased a second one. We use them on nearly all of our patients.

What’s not so good

Occasionally there can be a puncture due to an animal’s claw. Our Vacuumat has one small hole after eight months of use. However, we just placed a small piece of gaffer tape over the hole and it still works fine. They are also a bit bulky when stored in a cupboard.  

Where did you get it


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