Magnetic Resonance Imaging

To ensure your pet does not have to go through unnecessary invasive treatment we provide a range of advanced imaging diagnostics to identify the root cause of problems and create a bespoke solution of corrective treatments


At HSR we have a brand new, on-site 1.5 Tesla MRI machine specifically manufactured for use in animals. MRI machines are not all the same. ‘Low field’ MRI machines have a low magnetic field strength (measured in Tesla (T)) and less powerful magnets, whereas ‘high-field’ machines have a much more powerful magnet and a higher magnetic field. Generally, low-field NMR means the magnet field is lower than 0.5T and high-field NMR means the magnet field is higher than 1T.

High-field MRI, because it has stronger magnets and a higher field strength produces much better images and offers far better resolution and clarity. Aside from the obvious benefits with regard to image quality, high field MRI is much quicker than low field counterparts. Most low fields scan take over an hour to complete whereas the time for a high field is much less than half of this.

The Hallmarq PetVet 1.5T machine at HSR is the only high-field MRI system designed specifically for the use in animals and those clever people at Hallmarq have come up with variety of innovations particularly applicable to veterinary patients. Amongst others, PetVet’s unique veterinary head coil uses an elongated design to give greater coverage than a standard human head coil, which is particularly effective in acquiring excellent images of the spine in small dogs and cats. In contrast, there is a large V-shaped coil, developed specifically with large dogs in mind and so it is possible to scan the entire spine of large and giant breed dogs in a single scan without having to move the patient for scanning of different regions. With the addition of dual coil capability for imaging difficult areas we are delighted to be able to offer this wonderful facility for our patients.

MRI – How does it work?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses a strong, static magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body by aligning the usually randomly-orientated atomic nuclei of hydrogen atoms in the patient’s body.

A radio frequency (RF) pulse is then applied, forcing the spinning hydrogen protons to wobble

Once the RF pulse is turned off, the wobbling of the hydrogen protons generates a small electrical signal

The signal is detected by RF coils, which need to be positioned as close to the anatomical area of interest as possible

The rate at which the protons return to their equilibrium state distinguishes different bodily tissues

Why MRI?

  • MRI is able to distinguish subtle differences in the physical make up of body tissues and so provides detailed, high resolution images of internal structures.
  • MRI is able to image through bony structures and so is the treatment of choice for image of the spine and spina cord and if brain disorders.
  • It is safe and non-invasive.
  • With the use of various ‘sequences’ MRI can be used to detect many different disease process such as inflammation, haemorrhage and with the addition of appropriate contrast agents is invaluable in the investigation of neoplastic processes anywhere in the body.
  • MRI can be more cost-effective than combining various alternative diagnostics
  • Provides excellent detail for pre-operative planning for many surgical condition

Which cases is MRI most effective in?

  • Diagnosis of spinal cord compression and spinal cord injury
  • Brain tumours
  • Tendon and ligament injuries
  • Investigation of seizures
  • Vestibular problems
  • Neck and back pain
  • Nasal discharge