What are the indications for referral to an MRI?

MRI has the unique ability to detect abnormal fluid content, and is therefore unparalleled in its role of detection, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment planning and follow up of musculoskeletal disease. MRI in companion animals should be considered when a definitive diagnosis cannot be made on radiographs, a patient is nonresponsive to medical or surgical therapy, prognostic information is desired, assessment of surgical margins and traumatic and/or infectious joint and bone disease, and in ruling out subtle developmental or early aggressive bone lesions.

MRI Indications

 1. Unusual changes in behavior such as circling, persistent head tilt, or depression
 2. Seizures
 3. Unsteady gait
 4. Foot dragging
 5. Back pain  
 6. Lameness of shoulder or knee
 7. Chronic nasal discharge
 8. Oral tumors
 9. Cancer surgery planning to define the margins of a tumor
10. Pre-surgical check for metastatic disease

 Advantages of MRI over CT

  • Any plane can be acquired
  • Less dependence on contrast enhancement
  • Numerous sequences to interrogate the tissue
  • No bowel motion in pets as they are anesthetized
  • The best method for soft tissue visualization
  • Most of the skeletal system is soft tissue

Bottom line: If visualization of the disease will make a difference to diagnosis, prognosis, and especially TREATMENT then MRI is indicated.

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