Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic modality that provides a highly detailed look at the structures of the lower limb. It is used in difficult lameness cases to enhance our diagnostic power when used in conjunction with digital radiographs, joint and nerve blocks, ultrasonography and/or nuclear scintigraphy. An MRI uses a strong magnetic field to look at soft and hard tissues. Measurements are gathered and sent to a computer to be put together into an image that we can evaluate.

Arizona Equine installed a Hallmarq® standing MRI in 2005. The MRI is located in a specially designed room that is lined with copper to prevent any radio frequencies from interfering with the scan. The room also has a special climate control which maintains a constant temperature and humidity for the magnet. A unique computer in the room gathers the images and corrects for any movement to minimize the time required for a scan.

An MRI is done on your horse while standing with only sedation. No general anesthesia is needed to scan the feet or lower limbs below the fetlock. The MRI is done on one leg at a time and is typically reserved for a lameness that has been narrowed to a specific leg. Standing MRI’s are safe for your horse and generally your horse can go home the same day. For cases which involve the hock or carpus, the horse is put under general anesthesia and the magnet is raised to scan the leg.

MRI is superior to all other modalities in the diagnoses of soft tissue problems in the foot. MRI images can also be used to look at the bones in the leg. All the MRI studies done at Arizona Equine are sent away to be read by a board certified veterinary radiologist with special training interpreting MRI images.