MSU Unveils First Large-animal, Open-bore MRI at a U.S. Academic Institution

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The MSU College of Veterinary Medicine is now equipped with the first large-animal, open-bore MRI at an academic institution. The acquisition will allow veterinarians to tackle a variety of research questions and greatly influence both animal and human health.

The magnetic resonance imaging machine, which recently became fully operational, has a 70-centimeter opening (nearly 50 percent larger than the standard MRI), which will allow doctors and researchers at the college to analyze animals such as horses and cows. Just as important, said diagnostic imaging section chief Anthony Pease, will be the ability to study and interpret the images they receive.

MSU‘s new MRI is one of only three in the country and the first at an academic institution,” Pease said. “We will be able to look critically for the first time at many animal processes.”

The new machine, Pease said, will give veterinarians new insight into how illnesses and injuries affect animals.

“The main benefit is to look at the spinal cord and brain better than we ever have before,” he said. “CT imaging has been able to provide information about bone, but now we can image muscle, brain and spinal cord without invasive procedures. Also, we will be able to look at how the animal brain works, how animals sense pain and how their minds work when they sleep.”

An example of a specific ailment to be focused on is arthritis. Pease said that, for the first time, veterinarians will be able to see articular cartilage in animals to look for early signs of the crippling disease. He added that the MRI will continue to give veterinarians valuable insight into treating human ailments as well.

“Everything we learn about animals we will compare to what is known about people with the hope to treat both humans and animals with similar diseases,” he said.

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