University of Florida Offers Equine Lameness and Imaging Service

A new clinical service at the University of Florida (UF) Veterinary Medical Center offers horse owners full-time expertise in the area of equine lameness and imaging.

"We provide referral MRI procedures to veterinarians and their clients," said Matt Brokken, DVM, a board-certified surgeon who graduated from the UF veterinary college in 2003 and subsequently completed a residency in equine surgery and sports medicine at Washington State University.

He returned to UF in early 2008 to head up the equine lameness and imaging service at the Alec P. and Louise H. Courtelis Equine Hospital.

"My goal is to be a constant presence and to serve the referral community better by being available as a resource whenever these kinds of cases come in," Brokken said.

The new service will provide information about the use and advantages of equine MRI as well as providing evaluations of images from other MRI units upon request.

"Horses that come to our facility now have access to imaging technology comparable to what is available for human patients," said Eleanor Green, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, Dipl. ABVP, chairwoman of UF's department of large animal clinical sciences and chief of staff of the large animal hospital. "Our own patients will benefit significantly from our enhanced diagnostic capabilities, but in addition, veterinarians throughout Florida and beyond can refer their patients and clients to us to have images taken and interpreted to complement their own diagnostic procedures."

Brokken has extensive experience with the use of equine MRI, as well as with the diagnosis and treatment of equine orthopedic injuries.

MRI produces highly detailed images, which are obtained in multiple planes of bone and soft tissue, and can examine any portion of the horse's body that will fit into the aperture designed for people. In adult horses, this includes the foot, fetlock, suspensory ligament, carpus, hock, and head. In foals, the entire body can be imaged.

The MRI imaging technique can help determine the specific causes of lameness, allowing practitioners to make appropriate treatment recommendations.

In addition to MRI, the university offers computed tomography (CT), nuclear scintigraphy, digital radiography, and ultrasonography.

"I believe our expertise with the MRI is second to none, and while we already have the only high-field strength magnet in Florida, an upgrade is already on the way and is expected to arrive within the year," Brokken said. "That will increase our capability even more."

The upgraded magnet will speed up examination time and will provide higher-resolution images, Brokken said. The MRI upgrade is expected to be implemented by next March and a new CT table for horses is coming soon as well.

"This advanced diagnostic imaging technology is enhanced by the expertise that surrounds it," Brokken said. "Our comprehensive approach is supported by a team of veterinary specialists, including board-certified surgeons, internists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, and many others."

Horse owners, trainers, referring veterinarians, and others seeking more information about University of Florida's equine diagnostic imagining, or who wish to make an appointment with the equine lameness and imaging service, can call 352/392-2229.

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