MRI can be helpful for diagnosing a range of health issues in dogs. At Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson, we do not offer this service, however, our vets want to explain why MRI scans can be helpful, and the conditions this technology can help diagnose.
Veterinary Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRIs have been readily available to help diagnose human health conditions since the early 1980s, but it wasn't until recently that veterinary MRIs became more widely used.
How Veterinary MRIs Can Be Helpful
Although it can sometimes be easy to see that a pet is experiencing pain or discomfort, because our dogs can't explain what they feel, we rely on diagnostic examinations and testing to get to the underlying cause of their symptoms. MRI allows veterinary professionals to evaluate the inside of a dog's body in a non-invasive way.
MRI scans can provide your vet with high-resolution, detailed images of your pet's soft tissues such as the abdominal organs, brain, spinal cord, ligaments, and tendons. When it comes to many soft tissue injuries or diseases, veterinary MRI often provides a more detailed picture of your dog's body than other diagnostic imaging tools such as x-rays or CT Scans.
Conditions That Our In-House MRI Can Help to Diagnose
If your pup is experiencing symptoms such as limping, lameness, seizures, joint pain, neck pain, back pain, or paralysis, your vet may recommend an MRI to help diagnose the cause of your dog's issue. MRI scans can be used to help diagnose a wide range of problems in pets including:
- Musculoskeletal diseases and injuries such as ruptured cranial cruciate ligament or shoulder instability
- Spinal disc tumor, herniated discs, or stenosis
- Abdomen conditions indicated by organ enlargement or a tumor
- Brain tumor, inflammation, or abscess
The Veterinary MRI Process
A veterinary MRI scan takes about 45 minutes to an hour and requires the patient to be absolutely still for the entire time. As you can imagine, trying to coax a dog to stay completely still, in a strange machine, for 45 minutes would be an impossible task. For that reason, a general anesthetic is used on dogs undergoing an MRI scan.
Your veterinarian will likely recommend blood tests and X-rays be done before the MRI to help ensure that your pet is strong enough to be put under general anesthetic.
The Drawbacks of MRI Imaging for Dogs
The need for general anesthetic is one of the primary drawbacks of MRI for veterinary diagnostics. In some cases dogs just aren't strong enough to go under anesthetic, meaning that MRI will not be possible for those animals.
Although MRI is particularly useful in diagnosing brain, spinal cord, and ligament issues, there are conditions that are better detected using other diagnostic imaging tools such as CT and radiography (x-rays). MRI may be less helpful when diagnosing internal organs, fractures or head trauma in pets.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and the services listed in this post are not offered by this hospital.
If your pet has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition requiring more detailed diagnostic imaging, ask your vet for a referral to our team of Board Certified Veterinary Specialists. Contact us today.
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