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Equine Practice
Use of magnetic resonance imaging in lameness diagnosis in the horse
  1. Rachel Murray

    Rachel Murray graduated from Cambridge in 1990 and went on to specialise in equine surgery and orthopaedics. She currently runs the equine magnetic resonance imaging diagnostic service and is head of orthopaedic research at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket.

  1. Tim Mair

    Tim Mair graduated from Bristol in 1980. After a spell in mixed practice and research, and as a lecturer in equine internal medicine, he settled down in equine practice in 1989. He is now a partner at the Bell Equine Veterinary Clinic in Kent. He holds a PhD in equine immunology and RCVS diplomas in equine internal medicine and equine soft tissue surgery.


MAGNETIC resonance imaging (MRI) involves the interaction between an external magnetic field, radiowaves and hydrogen nuclei in the body. Although MRI has been used in human medicine for over 20 years, its value as an imaging modality in equine orthopaedic disease has only recently been recognised. The high tissue contrast afforded by MRI makes it ideal for the assessment of articular cartilage, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, synovium and bone marrow. In humans, MRI has become the imaging technique of choice for the investigation of many musculoskeletal structures, and the procedure is also increasingly being used for the diagnosis of orthopaedic conditions in small animals. In the horse, experience so far suggests that MRI has great potential for improving the diagnosis and understanding of lameness, and its clinical use is currently being undertaken at several centres around the world. This article explains the principles of MRI and describes how the technique may be used clinically to aid the diagnosis of equine lameness.

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