A new clinical imaging system in place at the University of Florida (UF) Veterinary Medical Center will enable veterinarians to obtain diagnostic images of previously inaccessible and larger parts of the body, such as the upper legs of horses, veterinarians say.

The new 1.5 Tesla Titan MR, made by Toshiba, has never previously been used by any academic veterinary medical center in the United States and will provide private practitioners and animal owners with a highly sophisticated, state-of-the-art tool for pinpointing and treating disease in their animals.

"There are many advantages to the Titan, notably its 71-centimeter patient aperture--known as the open bore--which will be a benefit in examining large animals," said Clifford "Kip" Berry, DVM, Dipl. ACVR, a professor of radiology at UF and chief of the Veterinary Medical Center's radiology service.

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is used in veterinary medicine to look inside an animal's body to evaluate diseases and other problems. The new MR will provide veterinarians with a more detailed anatomic picture through high-resolution imaging, and will enable them to image arterial and venous blood flow with the injection of an intravenous contrast medium, UF veterinarians said.

Berry said the new equipment is "faster, bigger, and better" than what has previously been available, and provides UF with one more powerful tool to provide veterinarians and their clients with the most advanced imaging services.

"There is more space available inside the machine to accommodate patients, which should allow for better imaging of the mid- to upper extremity of horses," Berry said. "The Titan also is quieter than existing MR equipment, making it less likely that acoustic noise will awaken patients during diagnostic examinations."

The equipment is designed so animals should not have to be repositioned during a study. Veterinary technologists also have the flexibility to load large animal patients into the equipment from the back end.

The VMC's new MR unit and the 8-slice multidetector row Toshiba Acquilion CT unit now available at UF are among the most powerful imaging tools currently available for veterinary diagnostics in the Southeast.

The MR unit allows highly detailed images to be obtained in multiple planes of bone and soft tissue in all species. Foot, fetlock, suspensory ligaments, carpus, hock, and heads are regions capable of being examined through MR in the horse, while spiral CT can be used for 3-dimensional reconstruction in complex fracture repair planning of the extremity or stifle in large animals.

"MR allows for exquisite distinction between normal and abnormal tissues," Berry said. "The use of specialized sequences further increases the ability to distinguish between different types of pathology ranging from hemorrhagic infarctions to primary brain tumors and inflammatory disorders."

Matthew Winter, DVM, Dipl. ACVR, assistant professor of diagnostic imaging at UF's Veterinary Medical Center, added that MR also reveals bone, tendon and ligament pathology and can show bone bruising, meniscal damage, and ligament tears that go undetected when using traditional radiography.

"All of our radiologists have strong interests in cross-sectional imaging, which gives UF a unique ability to serve the advanced imaging needs of Florida veterinarians," Winter said.

In addition to MR and CT, UF's VMC offers nuclear medicine, or scintigraphy, to both small and large animal patients. Teleradiology, or film reading via satellite, is a fee-based service UF's veterinary radiologists also offer to private veterinary practitioners who want to make use of UF's expertise remotely.

For information about large animal imaging, call the large animal hospital at 352/392-2229. In-house patients at the UF VMC have automatic access to all diagnostic imaging equipment when requested as part of a comprehensive diagnostic workup.

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