Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

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Filed Under: Neurology

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnet Resonance Imaging (MRI) has been used in veterinary medicine since the mid-1980’s, primarily in research facilities and universities.  In the last 15 years, it has become the preferred diagnostic tool of the veterinary Neurologist for imaging of the brain and spinal cord.

The MRI uses magnets, radiofrequency (RF) pulses, and computer reconstruction to produce the images we see.  When a Patient is placed into the MRI machine, the large magnets of the machine cause all of the hydrogen atoms to align with the magnets.  A RF pulse is then directed at the area being imaged, which knocks the hydrogen atoms out of alignment.  The time it takes the hydrogen atoms to come back into alignment with the magnets is measured and then interpreted by computer.  It takes different amounts of time for atoms in different tissue types (muscle, nerve, fat, fluids such as blood or cerebral spinal fluid) to come back into alignment which the computer renders into an image. It is this image Neurologists and Radiologists use to determine abnormalities and help diagnose neurologic disease.

Movement and motion create artifacts in the image and it is for this reason that your Pet is placed under general anesthesia for an MRI. MRIs are performed at Animal Imaging (AI) under the guidance of a Board Certified Radiologist.

Pre-anesthetic blood work and thoracic radiographs are performed here at Center for Veterinary Specialty + Emergency Care (CVSEC) to verify your Pet is capable of undergoing general anesthesia. In certain cases additional pre-anesthetic diagnostics may be recommended.  An intravenous (IV) catheter is placed and an anti-emetic injection given to help prevent vomiting while under anesthesia.  An Animal Imaging Technician then transports your Pet from our office to the AI facility in Irving. Your Pet travels safely in a van with kennels reserved for this purpose. After the MRI is performed, your Pet is observed at AI until recovered enough from anesthesia to be transported back to CVSEC.  You will receive a phone call when your Pet is returned to CVSEC. Your Pet then stays overnight with us on IV fluid support to further recover from anesthesia. The Neurologist will call with results of the MRI after they have reviewed it and received the Radiologist’s report; usually that night but sometimes not until the next morning.  Unless other procedures or diagnostics will be done, your Pet is typically discharged from CVSEC the afternoon following the MRI.

For more information please visit Animal Imaging's website: