MRI for Horses

Learn why Cave Creek Equine has invested countless hours and a considerable amount of money on state-of-the art equipment and radiology training.

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MRI for Horses


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an imaging modality that utilizes magnetic forces within the patient’s cells to create a two-dimensional image. The way the images are created allows both bone and soft tissue structures to be seen with excellent detail. Additionally, information about the underlying disease process can often be obtained from the MRI image.

Since 2004, Cave Creek Equine Surgical & Imaging Center has been providing the most advanced level of MRI imaging for horses and small animals. A state-of-the-art, open rotating magnet, Vet-MR Grande XL by Universal Medical Systems, Inc., was installed in a customized room at our facility. Horses and small animals are anesthetized by our experienced staff members during the imaging process to ensure that there is no movement to lessen the quality of the image. All acquired images are submitted to a board-certified radiologist for interpretation of the results once the MRI is complete.

No other diagnostic tool currently available can provide more detailed information regarding the anatomic structures. It provides answers and gives us the information we need in order to create a successful treatment and rehabilitation plan for your horse.

Compare Our MRI To A Standing MRI

When utilizing a standing MRI unit, instead of one in which the animal has been anesthetized, the study has a greater likelihood of being misinterpreted due to movement. This can lead to incorrect or incomplete diagnosis. Consequently, the horse will remain in pain and the owner will be out the expense of the MRI as well as the time end expense of the incomplete treatment. Our MRI allows us to accurately identify each individual problem without question as to whether movement may have created an artifact in the image.
In addition, our MRI unit is able to image large areas such as the horse's stifle, head and parts of their neck which would be impossible in a standing unit. With it's amazing versatility and ability to rotate, our MRI can also accommodate small animals to help diagnose neurological problems as well as orthopedic or soft tissue injuries. 


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4 Years Old

This horse suffered from an acute onset of left fetlock pain with swelling and lameness. Radiographs showed vague signs of bone trauma and the horse was stall rested for 8 weeks.

However, the horse remained lame at the walk with severe pain when attempting to flex the joint. Ultrasound and radiographs were unremarkable and the owner elected a standing MRI (Hallmarq unit) of the fetlock. Interpretation of that study by a well respected radiologist was that there were not enough findings to explain the degree of lameness.

The horse was then scanned with our MRI, the Vet-MR Grande XL by Universal Medical Systems, Inc. The arrows and arrowheads in the pictures below show all of the injuries that were missed by the Hallmarq standing MRI scan.

The following had been missed:

1. Distal cannon bone contusion
2. Trauma in the sesamoid bones behind the fetlock joint
3. Cartilage thinning and damage at the front back of the cannon bone in the fetlock joint
4. Injury of the intersesamoidean ligament
5. Injury of the collateral ligament of the fetlock joint

As the case report illustrates, the MRI unit utilized by our clinic is capable of obtaining images that are much more useful for diagnosing and treating your horse's injuries.

Make Appointment Online


Fill out the appointment form and our office will confirm your requested time and date by e-mail or phone within 24 hours.

Please call the office at 623-581-5508 if you have any questions, need further assistance or have not received a conformation e-mail or phone call within 24 hours.

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