Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is state-of-the-art, but more importantly, it is also pet-safe technology, enabling your board-certified veterinarian to clearly point out health concerns in your pets and quickly establish the best way to treat them. Advanced imaging is becoming a necessary tool in veterinary medicine, so it's important that veterinarians and owners understand the technology of magnetic resonance imaging.
MRIs are measured in Tesla (magnetic strength). Basically, the stronger the magnet, the better quality of images and the faster the scan can be completed. Any magnet that is 1.0 Tesla or stronger is considered to be a "high field" magnet. All of the magnets used in ExpertVet certified facilities are 1.0 Tesla or greater.
"Open" magnets versus "closed" magnets
You may have read about open vs. closed magnets. With a closed magnet, the area your pet is scanned is closed and the magnet is all around on the outside. An open magnet is C-shaped; therefore, one side or area of the magnet is "open." The open magnets were developed to handle claustrophobia and obesity. All patients are anesthetized for MRI scans, which eliminates any concerns related to claustrophobia. It is unlikely that any companion animal (dog, cat, bird, reptile, etc.) would be too large for a closed magnet. Both open and closed magnets produce excellent images.
Common questions regarding MRI and your pet:
Is it safe for my pet?
Yes! A thorough medical history is taken to verify that your pet does not have a battery-operated implant like a pacemaker. This type of implant is very rare in pets. Metal implants like pins and plates used to repair fractures (broken bones) can be present as long as they have been in place for six to eight weeks or longer.
My pet will be anesthetized? And how will they be monitored?
All patients are monitored with specialized equipment to watch their heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen level, and blood pressure. These readings are recorded every few minutes in the patient record and changes are made as necessary. Any anesthesia carries a risk, which is another reason that a thorough physical exam and bloodwork are required on all patients having advanced imaging.
What about my pet's microchip?
Generally the only concern with microchips is that they can interfere with the image by creating a blur. Occasionally the information on the chip is erased by the magnet: a minor complication compared to your pet being paralyzed by a ruptured disc. Just to be sure you should have your veterinarian scan the microchip after the MRI to make sure it is still reading.
What is the cost of a MRI?
The cost depends on the area of the body being imaged. MRI prices in ExpertVet certified facilities include anesthesia, monitoring, and reading of the scan usually by a board-certified veterinary neurologist and/or a board-certified veterinary radiologist.