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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2004 / 04 

New MRI service launched at Virginia Tech's Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center

April 8, 2004

A new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system, made by Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging, is in operation at Virginia Tech’ Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va.

The standing MRI Unit is one of only two such units in the United States and the only one available in the eastern United States, according to Dr. Nat White, the Theodora Ayer Randolph Professor of Surgery and interim director of the Equine Medical Center.

“We’re very excited about the introduction of this new service,” White said. “This is an extremely sensitive and versatile device that’s going to improve the way we diagnose lameness problems in all types of performance horses.”

The MRI uses an open magnet, which can be used to image a horse’s limb without requiring general anesthesia. The system is operated by a computer without the excessive noise common to the large circular magnets used for people. Sedated horses stand in stocks while the magnet moves around the leg at different heights from the foot to the knee or hock, depending on the area to be scanned.

Unlike X-rays or ultrasound that use ionizing radiation and sound waves, respectively, MRI creates diagnostic images by detecting radio frequencies from the leg placed in the magnetic field. Proton alignment within different tissues is detected and transformed into an image corresponding to the different components within the leg.

MRI is especially useful in diagnosing lameness problems in the foot and lower leg, White said. It can detect injuries to subchondral bone, joints, ligaments and tendons, attachments of ligaments to bone, infection, hoof damage, and foreign bodies.

MRI also is useful in detecting areas of inflammation, infection, excess fluid, and bleeding that often cannot be detected through other conventional imaging technologies such as radiographs, ultrasound or nuclear scintigraphy.

MRI examinations can be completed on horses as outpatients at the EMC. According to White, the admission, preparation and scanning will take one to two hours, depending on the case, and prior localization of the problem will be necessary. All horses will need to have shoes on the affected limbs as well as any other source of metal removed prior to entering the MRI room.

The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center is owned and operated by Virginia Tech as one of three campuses that comprise the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

For more information, visit or call the Equine Medical Center at (703) 771-6800.

The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) is a two-state, three-campus professional school operated by the land-grant universities of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and the University of Maryland at College Park. Its flagship facilities, based at Virginia Tech, include the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, which treats more than 40,000 animals annually. Other campuses include the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va., and the Avrum Gudelsky Veterinary Center at College Park, home of the Center for Government and Corporate Veterinary Medicine. The VMRCVM annually enrolls approximately 500 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and graduate students, is a leading biomedical and clinical research center, and provides professional continuing education services for veterinarians practicing throughout the two states.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.