Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center


Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Horse
Advanced Diagnostic Imaging

Developed in the 1978 and expanded in the 1990s, MRI has been the gold standard in human medicine for diagnostic imaging of orthopedic, brain and soft tissue injuries.

MRI – How Does it work?

mri_horse_lateralMRI utilizes a strong magnetic field (30,000 times as strong as the Earth’s magnetic field) to orient the atoms of the body. By changing this field temporarily, these atoms react and emit radio waves which are detected and interpreted by a computer to create the image. No radiation is used and there are no known side-effects to the use of MRI at this field strength in the horse.

MRI at Alamo Pintado 

Optimized for use in the horse. A state of the art, high field (1.5T) Siemens Magnetom Espree, has been installed in a customized facility at Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center. In development for over a year, this system allows for effective, time efficient imaging of orthopedic and brain injuries of the horse.

Regions examined

  • Foot
  • Fetlock (Ankle)
  • Suspensory Region
  • Carpus (Knee)
  • Tarsus (Hock)
  • Head
  • Entire body of horse up to 500 lbs

Does my Horse need an MRI?
MRI is the modality of choice when the general location of the injury is known and traditional methods such as radiographs and ultrasound have failed to identify the cause of the problem. The high detail images of the soft tissues and bone provide for a superior cross-sectional image of the affected anatomy in multiple planes

The MRI Process
The MRI is performed under general anesthesia to allow for proper positioning and minimize movement during the exam. With orthopedic conditions of the extremities, both limbs are imaged at their respective sites of injury for a complete evaluation and comparison between limbs. A typical MRI of the extremities will take about 1 hour under general anesthesia.

How to Schedule an MRI

  • Consult with your veterinarian.
  • Have you or your veterinarian contact Alamo Pintado to discuss if MRI is right for your horse.
  • Gather all records including history, results of nerve blocks, radiographs, ultrasound exams or any other pertinent information.
  • Schedule an appointment by calling (805) 688-6510

What Else Should I Know?

  • All horse shoes will be removed prior to the exam and screening radiographs of the feet will be obtained to ensure no metal is present that may affect the MRI exam.
  • Clients may observe the MRI procedure from an adjacent room. Due to safety considerations, clients are restricted from entering the room with the magnet.
  • Preliminary results of the MRI will be available immediately. Final results of the scan will be available after review by an independent radiologist.
  • Copies of the exam are available on compact disc or on film. Please consult with the staff if interested in obtaining a copy.
  • Due to the general anesthetic, it is often best if the horse remains overnight to allow for a complete recovery prior to trailering.
  • If you have questions about MRI, please feel free to call Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center at (805) 688-6510

Click here for a PDF brochure about MRI in the horse at Alamo Pintado.

Click Here for sample MRI images (coming soon)