MRI diagnostics for problems of the head

Magnetic resonance imaging is helpful for identifying some disorders of the equine head.
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A large-scale international study of the efficacy of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in investigating equine head disorders suggests that the high-tech tool is helpful but has some limitations.

Close up of a black horse's head and eye

MRI can be helpful in diagnosing some head disorders, but has limitations.

Researchers reviewed the records of 84 horses over a 13-year period at three different equine hospitals: The Complutense University of Madrid, Spain; the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, England; and Tufts University in Massachusetts. Sixty-five horses had neurological problems, 14 had sinonasal disorders and five horses had alterations in soft tissues.

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The collected data showed that MRI could pinpoint the location of brain and sinonasal lesions but did not reveal the cause of many neurological difficulties. For example, no abnormalities were found on the MRIs of 45 of the 65 horses (69 percent) in the study who had a history of neurological problems, consisting of recurrent seizures related to epilepsy.

Nonetheless, the researchers conclude that MRI is an otherwise valuable diagnostic tool for disorders affecting the equine head.

Reference: “Magnetic resonance imaging characteristics of equine head disorders: 84 cases (2000-2013),” Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound, August 2014

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