Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provides high detail anatomic information unlike any other modality offered by our Diagnostic Imaging Service. AMC’s MRI is a high-strength, 1.5T magnet, identical to units used in imaging people. Organs like the brain and spinal cord are imaged in companion animals suffering from conditions like seizures, behavior change, back pain and paralysis.   Additionally, chronic shoulder pain and other musculoskeletal problems are optimally imaged with MRI. MRI is the single best modality for providing contrast and detail of the body. The drawback is that MRI requires long scan times and general anesthesia in order to acquire the images. 

The most common indication for MRI is in the case of acute paralysis in dogs. Chondrodystrophic dogs (like dachshunds) are predisposed to acute intervertebral disc herniations, often requiring emergency surgery to decompress the spinal cord. The MRI pinpoints the exact location of a disc herniation, directing the surgeon where to cut. AMC’s MRI is available 24 hours a day, unlike other institutions providing veterinary services. The high strength of AMC’s magnet also allows us to image in a shorter amount time than other institutions. A shorter scan time means a faster diagnosis, and shorter time to surgery. 

The image below is a classic example of disc herniation in a dog that acutely could not walk and had severe neck pain. Can you identify the abnormal intervertebral disc?