Understanding MRIs for Horses

MRIs for Horses

Let’s face it. Our horses love to work and play and in both instances, this means that injuries will and often do occur. Determining the exact cause of your horse’s pain or lameness can be extremely difficult, as the injuries are often internal and do not have exterior markings. Yet, simply leaving the injury untreated could provide continual complications and discomfort. This is where using a specialized MRI for horses can help you.

When your horse is dealing with an internal injury or issue you should schedule a MRI test. MRI exams are a cost effective way to ensure proper diagnosis. However, be forewarned. Not all MRI equipment nor imaging results are equal and bad data can provide bad diagnosis. This post will explore some reasons you should use an MRI, when to use them, the different types of MRI’s ,how they actually work, and the benefits they can provide.

Why should you request a MRI from your vet?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provide a large number of detailed, multi-dimensional images. In the world of animals, an equine MRI can be particularly useful for finding the cause of your horse’s pain or lameness.

MRI images are an excellent tool in the world of veterinary medicine, as the practitioners can use the detailed images to accurately determine both the problem and the solution. The fact that the images cover both the bones and the soft tissues allows for veterinarians to take a holistic approach in analyzing the issue.

MRI scans can also prove useful to horse owners providing them comfort knowing the vet allow can accurately assess the problem. Many of the ailments horses face may only become worse if left untouched, and getting an MRI scan and listening to the advice of your veterinarian will likely prevent unnecessary pain for your horse.

When should you have your vet use a MRI?

Understanding how an MRI can assist you and your horse is great, but when should you use one? The primary answer is when your horse is dealing with lameness.

There are a plethora of factors that can contribute to and cause equine lameness, which is what necessitates such a thorough, comprehensive test like an MRI. The potential causes range from issues with the soft tissue structure to problems with bones. The variety in potential causes can make it difficult for owners—and even practitioners—to determine the source of a horse’s pain.

What are the different types of MRI’s and how do they work?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging has been used for decades to help assess medical problems. In short, as this article from Medical News Today describes, “MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within the body.”

For horses, the old standard MRI machine has been the Hallmarq standing MRI system. However, at Cave Creek Equine Surgical and Imaging Center, our state-of-the-art MRI imaging system from ESAOTE requires the horse to lay down for the scan. This approach, along with the more advanced technology, allows us to capture and produce the highest-quality image. You can read more here about how we compare standing MRI vs. our MRI machine.

The small details that our MRI machine captures allows us to capture extremely detailed MRI images that allow us to assess the problem areas with certainty. With that untouched level of precision, our machines can effectively assess the smallest of areas with pinpoint accuracy.

What are the benefits of MRI can provide for your horse?

Our team at Cave Creek Equine Surgical and Imaging Center, believes that there are two significant benefits to using MRI scanning for your horse.

  1. Comprehensive. A MRI machine examines specific areas, focusing on the bone and soft tissues. This ability to examine both at the same time distinguishes MRIs from radiographs or ultrasounds, which only examine the soft tissues, as well as x-rays, which focus on the bones.
  2. High-quality images. An MRI generally produces a large amount of pictures, all of which are clear and focused. The images allow practitioners to view specific body parts from different angles and lengths, providing a better vantage point to efficiently identify damage and determine a solution or path forward.

What Should You Do?

If you or someone you know has a horse dealing with lameness or apparent pain, schedule an appointment today. Our team at Cave Creek Equine cares about the long-term health of your horse, which means that we are big proponents of MRIs for horses.

But we also understand that some MRI tests are more effective than others. This is why we have invested heavily in tools such as our ESAOTE MRI machine combined with our expertise to determine the root of the problem and help your horse recover.

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