What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?
MRI Stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. MRI is a way of getting pictures of various parts of the body without the use of x-rays. The MR scanner consists of a large and very strong magnet in which the patient lies. A radio wave signal is sent to the body which then sends return signals back to the computer for analysis. This signal analysis is then transformed into images of the body part your vet has asked us to examine. Pictures of almost any part of your body can be obtained at almost any particular angle.MRI scanners are good at looking at the non-bony parts or “soft tissues” of the body, such as the brain, spinal cord and nerves. These structures are seen much more clearly with MRI than with regular x-rays or CT scans. Also, muscles, ligaments and tendons are seen quite well so that MRI scans are commonly used to look at joints particularly following trauma. CT scans are frequently better at looking at the bones that MRI.
MRI has been used for diagnosis in human beings for many years, perhaps you have had one yourself. However, it was not widely available in veterinary medicine until fairly recently, allowing veterinarians to more accurately determine the cause and location of many animal diseases.
Veterinary Imaging Specialists of Alaska uses a high field MRI scanner capable of providing excellent images with high resolution enabling the veterinarian to “see” small lesions and subtle changes that may be a significant finding in the in diagnosing your pet’s condition. Evaluation of the scan is done by a specialist veterinary radiologist who has expertise in the interpretation of MR images.
When is MRI the best imaging option?
- Brain Evaluation
- Spinal Imaging for Disc Disease and Tumors
- Surgical Planning for Soft-Tissue Tumors and Muscle Tear
- Abdominal Organs for Intra-Abdominal Masses.
Your veterinarian will chose the most appropriate exam for your pet.
What happens during an MRI procedure?
The MRI procedure itself is performed on site, at Pet Emergency Hospital , our strategic partner, in our fully, self-contained MRI van which houses our a highly advanced MRI scanner , providing the same high quality of images for your pet as those expected for human patients.
Your pet must lie completely still during the imaging procedure and this requires that your pet undergo anesthesia. The anesthesia process is determined by a supervising veterinarian and licensed veterinary anesthesia technician. All pets are closely monitored during their procedure by the wonderful, caring staff of PET Emergency Hospital, our strategic partner, throughout their brief stay with us. Of course if your personal veterinarian chooses to administer the anesthesia and monitor your pet throughout the procedure we can make those special arrangements to accommodate those wishes.
We want both you and your pet to be as comfortable and confident in our services and procedures. If you have any questions, concerns or comments please remember we are always just a phone call away.
Keeping Your Pet Safe
We go to great lengths to ensure the safety of our patients. Our partner veterinarians only use the safest anesthetic possible to minimize patient risk and anesthesia time and we will closely monitor our patients both during and after the MRI study. The veterinary radiologists will guide us through the imaging process by providing technical support and who will interpret our studies are passionate about their specialty. They have gone through several years of advanced training to learn how to interpret MRI studies to ensure only the best in image diagnosis for your pet.
Preparing for the Procedure
Once the decision has been made to perform an MRI on your pet and a schedules appointment is made please follow the steps below to prepare your pet for the procedure.
- Please do not feed your pet anything for 12 hours before the appointment..
- Check with your veterinarian or the VISA or your veterinarian before stopping any medication prior to the procedure.
- Call the office at us at 907-242-2810 to check the arrival time and get any last-minute questions answered.
Aftercare at Home
There are no side effects from the MRI itself but the after effects of anesthesia can last 12 to 18 hours following the procedure. The staff at Pet Emergency Hospital who provide anesthesia for your pet may ask that you wait a few hours after returning home before feeding your pet and will go over instructions before you leave.
We are the only high quality, veterinary MRI provider in Alaska, partnering with board-certified veterinary radiologists and professional licensed technicians who set the highest standard for animal care. Rather than itemizing costs for MRI, we feature comprehensive MRI packages that include:
- Patient evaluation prior to, during and following the procedure.
- Anesthetic induction (catheter, induction drugs, endotracheal tube and anesthetic monitoring)
- Anesthesia throughout the entire procedure (anesthesia for up to one hour, monitoring, and body temperature support).
- MRI ((Contrast is not included but adds a minimal cost.)
- MRI interpretation by a board-certified radiologist. (A neurologist interpretation can be included for a nominal fee.)
If you would like an estimate for your pet’s procedure, please give us a call at (907) 242-2810. We will be happy to go over your specific MRI package and any costs associated with it.
CT or CAT Scan
Computed tomography (CT) uses x-rays to produce multiple images of the inside of the body, and provides thin, high resolution, cross-sectional “slices” for any body part requiring evaluation by your veterinarian. CT images of internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels provide much more detail than conventional x-rays. Radiologists use this specialized equipment and expertise to diagnose problems such as cancer, abnormalities of blood vessels, trauma, and musculoskeletal disorders.
CT is one of the best tools for studying the chest and abdomen because it provides excellent high resolution, detailed, cross-sectional views of all types of tissue, and is often the preferred method for diagnosing many different cancers. CT images allow a veterinarian to confirm the presence of a tumor and measure its size, precise location and the extent of the tumor’s involvement with other nearby tissue. CT images have excellent resolution and this makes it an ideal modality for CT guided biopsies. The veterinarian can precisely locate a tumor or abscess and using the information from the images, show precisely where to place a biopsy needle or place a tube to drain an abscess.
It is excellent at imaging the thorax, nasal cavity, bony structures and tympanic bulla (middle ear), providing a way to evaluate the brain, the spinal cord, particularly the bony spine, and even the abdominal cavity. In human medicine CT is used for evaluation of the lungs and other organs for cancer, metastatic disease and for staging of such cancers. We can and do use the same technology in the same manner in veterinary medicine. CT is well suited for evaluation of trauma since it is excellent at imaging the head providing much more detail than standard x-rays since there is not superimposition of the structures. Generally CT is the modality of choice and preferred over MRI for evaluation of bony structures. CT has the advantage of better accessibility, lower cost, faster scan times and has better spatial resolution than MRI, however CT scans can miss small or subtle lesions, especially in the brain and spinal cord, which can be better visualized with MRI.
CT can be used to:
- diagnose cancer of the lungs and nasal cavity
- diagnose abnormal bloods vessels in the liver
- diagnose disorders of the abdomen such as kidney stones
- diagnose disorders of bones and joints such as elbow dysplasia
- guide biopsies and other minimally invasive procedures
- plan surgery
Veterinary Imaging Specialists of Alaska is pleased to be offer fluoroscopy to local veterinarians to facilitate interventional procedures such as stent placement and to obtain “real-time” images to evaluate joint mobility or to show movement of contrast through the esophagus and into the stomach. “real-time” imaging can add greatly to your veterinarians’ ability to evaluate your pet’s condition.
In medical imaging fluoroscopy uses x-rays to show “live”, continuous images on a monitor while the veterinarian is actually treating or operating on your pet, and it is just like movie!. Fluoro as is it often called, shows “real-time” movement of structures in the body. For instance. fluoroscopy can be useful in orthopedic procedures. We can evaluate bony structures in “real-time” for movement and alignment, which can be helpful in repairing complicated fractures. If the veterinarian is pinning a fractured bone he can see instantly if the bone is perfectly aligned. Fluoroscpy can also be used to help “guide” needle placement as the veterinarian performs a biopsy.
In dogs, fluoro is very beneficial in diagnosing a collapsing trachea, since the veterinarian can clearly see the trachea while the dog is breathing or coughing to see if there is any evidence of narrowing. Also it is frequently used in the placement of stents and other procedures where “live x-ray” can aid the veterinarian immediately. Stents may be placed in the heart, trachea and often in the urethra which can be useful for strictures or masses in cases of urinary obstruction. Fluoroscopy can be very useful in performing contrast studies where seeing a contrast agent move through the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract or the urinary system in “real time” can help diagnose your pet’s problem.
Fluoroscopic procedures are stored digitally so they can be reviewed at any time by your veterinarian or other specialists who may be involved in your pet’s care!