Tryon Equine Hospital P.L.L.C




Standing Equine MRI


Standing Equine MRI for Horses

Tryon Equine Hospital is happy to offer our clients magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), through the use of the Hallmarq® MRI technology. MRI is currently consiScreen Shot 04-03-17 at 12.49 AM.PNGdered the gold standard for diagnosing injury in equine sports medicine. It is a powerful imaging tool that provides detailed images of bones and soft tissues in a horse's lower limbs and can identify areas of inflammation when radiographs and ultrasound do not detect the abnormality.

An MRI not only gives clear viewing of bone and soft tissue but it also allows 3-dimensional viewing of slices of the tissue, in the area of concern, so severity of the injury can be accurately determined. Each scan generates between 300-500 images per foot, offering a 90% likelihood of conclusive diagnosis as to the specific cause of lameness. Targeted treatment can then be recommended, a prognosis can be clarified, and a more satisfactory outcome reached. In equine sports medicine, an early and accurate diagnosis with an MRI can lead to improving a horse's long-term athletic soundness and reducing their time out of work.

When horses are standing, we can obtain MRI images of the distal extremities (feet, pasterns, and fetlocks) and other body parts. The structure that is imaged most frequently with the MRI is the hoof.  The equine hoof is comprised of many soft tissue structures that cannot be seen on an x-ray, and cannot be penetrated by ultrasound waves.  We are now able to identify damage to these tissues, provide an explanation for many frustrating foot lameness cases, and suggest new treatments and shoeing techniques. The MRI system is best used when a lameness can be localized to a specific area, such as a particular foot or fetlock, but shows no abnormalities on digital radiograph or ultrasound.

An MRI can be helpful in the following situations:

  • Assessing damage after penetrating injuries of the foot
  • Radiographs do not show any injuries/lesions
  • Lameness localized to the foot or lower limb by nerve blocks
  • Area not accessible with ultrasound
  • Early detection of bone fractures (before they become obvious cracks)
  • After acute onset of lameness during exercise
  • To monitor treatment and healing before returning to work


MRI vs Radiograph

MRI images show information about both bone and soft tissue, whereas radiograph images only show bone, and ultrasound imaging only shows soft tissues. The clear images from an MRI allow us to make an accurate and precise diagnosis in 90% of cases.

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Image Caption: Radiograph image of horse's foot (left) and MRI image of horse's foot (right).


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MRIs are performed by appointment. Your horse’s shoes (both front feet, if the front foot is affected, and both hind feet, if the hind foot is affected) will have to be pulled prior to getting the MRI exam. We can remove the shoes if you are unable to arrange this with your farrier or if your horse cannot travel without shoes on.

Prior to the MRI exam, radiographs will need to be taken of each foot to detect any metal (such as a remnant of a horse shoe nail---as this will need to be removed. The charge for the radiographs is included in the price of the MRI exam. Your horse will be sedated for the exam. During the 2 hour exam, hundreds of images are captured that are then compiled and analyzed by our doctors. A diagnosis will be reported to you within 72 hours.

Contact us at (828) 894-6065 and/or to find out more information about this service and to book an appointment for your horse.