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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)


Your pet is scheduled to have an MRI. This information sheet will give you an idea of what is involved in the procedure and what to expect.
What is MRI and how does it work?
An MRI is an advanced imaging technology that has been used in human medicine for the last two decades. MRI is non-invasive and is not painful. Unlike x-rays or CTs, the MRI does not use ionizing radiation. Instead, it uses magnetic fields and pulses of radio waves to temporarily and harmlessly energize molecules in your pet's body. As they relax, these energized molecules give off signals that are transferred into images.
Patient with a brain tumor
Why has an MRI been recommended?
MRI is a very powerful imaging modality. It has been recommended because it provides exceptional soft tissue detail. We can image areas such as the brain, spine and spinal cord, nasal passage and sinuses, abdominal organs, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints with more detail than a radiograph (x-ray) or CT scan. The results of the MRI will help your veterinarian make a definitive diagnosis and offer you the best options for treating your pet.
Are there any known complications from an MRI?
MRI exams are considered safe. The procedure does cause some heating in the body, but there are safe-guards to stay well below any harmful effect. There are reported side effects in people with severe kidney disease from the contrast which may be administered during the exam. Although this has not been documented in animals, if your pet has severe kidney disease, the contrast will not be administered. Pieces of metal in the body (bullet fragments, pellets, surgical devices) can cause artifacts on the MRI images, but generally do not harm the pet; however, it is important for us to know if there is the possibility of these metal objects in your pet.
How should I prepare my pet for the MRI?
Pets having an MRI must be anesthetized so that they remain still for the procedure, which lasts approximately one hour. In preparation for general anesthesia, your pet should not eat after 8 p.m. the night before the exam. Please continue to provide free access to fresh water. Ask your veterinarian for instructions if your pet is on any medications.
Patient with a normal brain.
What should I bring to the appointment?
We will ask your veterinarian to fax us a copy of the medical record so that you do not need to be responsible. However, if your veterinarian has any x-rays that they are unable to mail to us in time for the appointment, we ask that you please bring those to the appointment.
What should I expect during the MRI?
Your pet will be anesthetized for approximately one hour for the MRI exam. Before any anesthesia is given, we will make sure that your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. We will place an intravenous catheter for fluid administration throughout the procedure. Your pet's vital signs will be carefully monitored during and after anesthesia.
What happens to my pet after the MRI?
After anesthesia, your pet will be disoriented and off balance for about half an hour. We will watch your pet closely until he/she has recovered. Once your pet is standing and able to move around safely, he/she will be hospitalized in our wards. Your pet will be able to be discharged between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. You will be notified as to when you may pick up your pet.

Your pet may urinate a large amount after returning home because of the fluids given during the anesthesia. Once home, it will be important to keep your pet away from stairs and obstacles and feed only a small meal. The effects of general anesthesia should be gone within about 24 hours. If you feel your pet has not fully recovered by that time, please call us or your regular veterinarian.
Patient with a neck mass
How will I learn the results of the MRI?
The radiologist who performed your pet's procedure will complete a report which will be faxed to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will call you with the results of this procedure.

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