Our Superior MRI for Your Horse

Learn why Cave Creek Equine has invested thousands in state-of-the-art equipment & radiology training for your horse

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for Horses


Since 2004, Cave Creek Equine Surgical & Imaging Center provides state-of-the-art MRI images for horses and small animals interpreted by board-certified radiologists. A state-of-the-art open rotating magnet (Vet-MR Grande XL, Universal Medical Systems, Inc.) has been installed in a customized facility at Cave Creek Equine Surgical & Imaging Center. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an imaging modality that utilizes the magnetic forces rather than radiation, 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 on the underlying disease process can often be obtained from the MR image.

All acquired MRI images for horses and small animals are submitted to board-certified radiologist for interpretation of the imaging results. No other diagnostic tool gives more detailed information regarding pathology in the anatomic structures involved. It eliminates questions and provides answers that no other diagnostic tool can provide. 

Compare Our MRI vs the Standing MRI


More Even Field of View

Our MRI has a larger and much more homogeneous (even) field of view for improved image quality and less artifacts, especially with gradient echo sequences.

Larger Scan Regions

Our MRI machine can accommodate approximately 10 inch scan zones in the following areas: Hind limb: from the foot to the stifle; Fore limb: from the foot to the carpus (knee); Head and cranial portions of the neck

Cleaner Images

Our MRI machine produces cleaner images. With standing MRI scanners, because the horse is standing, any slight movement can cause inaccuracies or imperfections in the image it produces.

Better Diagnosis

Our MRI allows imaging of more proximal areas in the limb such as the stifle and carpus as well as the head and cranial portions of the neck, which are impossible to accommodate for standing magnet systems.

Small Animals Too

 Our rotating magnet allows for efficient imaging of orthopedic and soft tissue disorders not only in the horse but it is also designed to image dogs and cats. Our clinic also performs MRI imaging for small animals, to help diagnose neurologic and orthopedic concerns.

When Standing MRI diagnostic quality is suboptimal...


The interpretation of the study has a greater likelihood of being misinterpreted leading to both false negatives and false positives.

As the case report below illustrates, a negative study on a Hallmarq (Standing MRI) exam is frequently interpreted as truly negative. So, consequently, the horse will suffer when lesions are not seen that are in fact present. Yet the owner and the horse have already paid the expense of an MRI, not to mention the time and expense of incomplete treatment, which is frustrating for all involved.


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4 Years Old

The 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 box 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 (Hallmark ) of the fetlock.  Interpretation of that study by a well respected radiologist was that there was not enough findings to explain the degree of lameness.

The horse was then scanned with the our MRI, the ESAOTE Vet-MR Elite machine. The arrows and arrow heads in the slides below show all the injuries that were missed by the Hallmarq 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

Image Credit:
Dr Alexia McKnight, DVM, Diplomate ACVR (Radiologist)
Dr Henrik Anderson (Horsholm Hestepraksis, Denmark) 

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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