How can MRI help?
Often during a lameness work-up ‘nerve blocks’ will be used to discover where the pain is coming from. This is then followed with X-ray or ultrasound examinations but because these imaging tools only show bone (x-ray) or some soft tissues (ultrasound) it is common not be able to see anything significant.
In these cases a standing MRI can save time, money and worry through an early, safe and accurate diagnosis.
Early – because as soon as the ‘nerve blocks’ confirm the location you can ask for an MRI to help reach an accurate diagnosis. You don’t have to spend money trying different treatments and then MRI in 3 – 6 months time as a last resort.
Safe – because the Hallmarq system offers the choice of standing MRI thus avoiding the inherent risks of general anaesthesia.
Accurate – because in the absence of X-ray or ultrasound findings you are having to rely on judgement not a positive diagnosis. For example published papers report that injecting the navicular bursa can give good results provided there are no associated changes on the flexor surface of the navicular bone; in these cases the prognosis is poor. A standing MRI will help you differentiate which palmar foot pain cases have a good prognosis and merit treatment and which don’t.
MRI needs to be used as part of a clinical examination protocl and at the appropriate stage. The following criteria will help to select the correct cases:
- Chronic lameness has been localised to the foot or in the distal limb by nerve block
- Radiographs are negative or equivocal
- Nuclear scintigraphy is being considered – or is negative
- Access by ultrasound is difficult or impossible
- For penetrating injuries needing urgent attention
- After acute onset of lameness during exercise
- To monitor treatment and healing before returning to work
To read a first hand account of the benefits of our MRI scanner, please read Joseph Murphy’s article in The Irish Field.
For further technical information please refer to the website of our partner Hallmarq. Their website has an excellent video of an MRI examination.