MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

MRI is a very powerful imaging tool. With an MRI, your veterinarian and veterinary radiologist can see soft tissues such as the brain or spine, joints, and cardiovascular structures in even better detail than with radiographs (x-rays) or CT-scan.

What is MRI and how does it work?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It is an advanced imaging tool that’s been safely used by human doctors for the past two decades. Now this imaging tool is available for your pet.

Unlike x-rays and CT, MRI does not use ionizing radiation. Instead, it uses magnetic fields and pulses of radio waves to temporarily and harmlessly energize molecules in your pet’s body. As they relax, these energized molecules give off a signal that is made into an image by a computer.

The image produced gives your veterinarian and veterinary radiologist highly detailed information about any functional or structural abnormalities in your pet. Consequently, your veterinarian can better determine the specific cause of your pets’ problem.

Why has my veterinarian recommended an MRI for my pet?
Sadly, our pets can’t talk, so figuring out what’s making them sick or feel bad is often complicated. If the more common diagnostic tests have failed to determine your pet’s problem, your veterinarian needs the detailed information provided by an MRI.

Information provided by an MRI allows your veterinarian to provide your pet better care. A good example of this is a comparison of diagnostic procedures for identifying elbow joint fractures. In a 1997 study presented in the Journal of Veterinary Research, fractures of the elbow were detected with X-Ray’s only 33% of the time. MRI, on the other hand, was able to detect fractures 95% of the time. MRI is also valuable in helping your veterinarian minimize anesthesia time and reduce post-operative complications if surgery is needed.

Is anesthesia necessary?
Your pet must remain very still, in order for the MRI to give your veterinarian the correct information. If any motion occurs, test results will be negatively affected. Since we can’t ask your pet to hold still, they must be anesthetized. Your consent is required before any anesthesia will be given.

Will my pet have to be hospitalized or stay overnight?
In most cases, hospitalization is not necessary after an MRI. Your pet will usually go home after the MRI has been performed and they have recovered from anesthesia.

Does the MRI cause pain for my pet?
No. The MRI is painless. Some pets are uncomfortable because of other health problems. We take great care in ensuring they are comfortable during the procedure.

Is the MRI safe?
Safety of MRI’s has been tested in human medicine for nearly twenty years. Complication rates are very low. Any risk to your pet arises from the need for anesthesia during the procedure. While risk can’t be completely eliminated, we take extreme care in anesthetizing your pet. Your pet will be anesthetized using many of the same medications and procedures used in human anesthesiologists.

To ensure your pet’s well-being:
In most cases your family veterinarian will complete blood work and any other testing needed and submit results to us before we anesthetize your pet. This way, we can tailor our anesthetic plan specifically to your pet.
Your pet will be closely monitored throughout the procedure by an experienced veterinarian and veterinary technician before, during, and after the procedure. Your pet’s heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen concentration, and other parameters will be closely watched