MRI: A Highly Effective Diagnostic Tool & Treatment Aid 

by Nathaniel A. White, II DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS

Horse positioned for standing Hallmarq MRI image acquisition

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), a technology available for horses, works differently from x-rays and ultrasound by detecting abnormal tissue density and fluid based on tissue response to magnetization. MRI has revolutionized injury detection in horses by under- standing the changes occurring in different tissues with different injuries.

Initially MRI studies could only be completed with horses under general anesthesia in MRI units made for humans. An open magnet was later created for use in standing horses and is in use at The Equine Medical Center (EMC). The predominate use has been for foot diseases, but now with improved software, images of the pastern, fetlock, cannon bone and knee are also possible.

MRI’s greatest advantage to horses is the ability to detect damage to bones, tendons and ligaments. This is particularly true in the horse’s foot because the hoof limits visualization of soft tissues with x-ray and ultrasound. Because MRI creates images in multiple slim slices, a 3-dimensional re- construction can provide the exact location and severity of the injury.

Collateral ligament injection guided by MRI

The most common injuries in the foot, only detectable by MRI, are deep digital flexor tendinopathy, navicular bone inflammation, coffin joint collateral ligament desmopathy, bone bruises and joint distention. EMC has developed MRI guided injection techniques for injuries to the deep digital flexor tendon and collateral ligaments in the foot. This provides an accurate placement of platelet rich plasma (PRP) or stem cells to help treat these injuries.

If you would like more information on MRI at MC, contact Kathy Ashland at 703-771-6800


(sponsored content; originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of The Equiery)
The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) is a premier, full-service equine health facility conveniently located at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. As an integral part of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and Virginia Tech, the EMC offers an array of cutting-edge diagnostic and therapeutic technologies and veterinary expertise to provide innovative and cost-effective care for your horse. The EMC offers a broad range of general and advanced specialty services by appointment as well as comprehensive 24/7 emergency services. State of the art technology with cutting-edge expertise…
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