ArbotomĀ® tomograph

As part of Sam Hill Tree Care’s continued commitment to education and technology the company has acquired an Arbotom® tomograph unit to enhance the reliability of our tree risk assessments. 

A tomograph uses sound impulses to evaluate the density of a tree’s trunk or branches.

“The Arbotom® tomograph unit provides an inside view of the tree that you simply can’t get from a visual review,” said SHTC founder, Sam Hill. “While this technology isn’t for every situation, it does identify hidden decay and cavities issues that may be effecting the structure and future longevity of your tree.”

Often homeowners become concerned when a larger, well-established tree may appear to threaten the house or property if it were to fall during adverse weather conditions. Ultimately, this is a big concern that requires more information before making a final decision.


According to Hill, there are only 4-5 tomography machines available for this purpose in Texas. A professional evaluation that includes the use of tomography technology can provide the precise location of defects in trees and limbs and is green-friendly because it does not harm the tree in the process.

The tomography reading requires a number of nails to be lightly inserted into the tree’s circumference depending on its size. Sensors are attached to each nail and when tapped, record the time it takes for sound waves to travel from one head to the next. A computer is used to collect the data and the arborist can make an immediate diagnosis based on the results.

A beautiful established tree not only increases the home’s market value but provides an enjoyable experience for the homeowners. According to Hill, it’s never easy having these discussions with homeowners.  

“People become attached to their trees and they can be considered part of the family,” he said. “It’s our job to analyze the situation and provide the best recommendation for the future of that tree.”  

A good diagnosis can reassure the homeowner to keep the tree for 3, 5 or even 10 more years before re-evaluating.