A higher standard of care

Advanced Imaging


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI produces images with superior bone and soft tissue detail. It is best utilized when an area of pain is localized and traditional methods of diagnostics such as radiographs and/or ultrasound have failed to show the source of the lameness. 

MRI is the best imaging tool for evaluating injuries to soft tissue structures within the foot such as tendons and ligaments.  So advanced, that it can detect changes in the chemical makeup of the tissues before they are grossly visible.

Fairfield Equine has the Hallmarq standing system which allows the patients to stand, weight bearing under light sedation for the procedure.

During the scan the horse is sedated through an IV catheter and the area to be imaged is placed in the center of the magnetic field. A receiving coil is placed around the region of interest to collect emitted signal.  

A radiofrequency pulse is then applied and the molecules within the magnetic field begin to “spin”.  Spin allows the molecule to absorb energy. 

Horse Veterinarian from Fairfield Equine Veterinary Services performing emergency scoping on a horse in the stables.

Once turned off, the molecules reorient to their natural orientation giving off excess energy, which is then produced into an image. The exchange of energy between spin states is called “resonance”.

The images produced are very sensitive to changes in the amount of water within tissues. 

This allows for a detailed evaluation of fluid accumulation, edema, and strain or tearing of soft and hard tissues as well as bone in the injured area.

An average bilateral foot study can take approximately 3 hours and accumulate 500 or more highly detailed images. 

This information enables us to deliver an accurate diagnosis and combined with the most updated treatments maximize a horse’s prognosis for return to performance.

MRI has become one of the most important diagnostic tools in equine lameness.


Nuclear Scintigraphy (Bone Scan)

This non-invasive imaging technique is a form of diagnostic imaging used to detect areas of increased metabolism in bone and soft tissue that may indicate orthopedic or soft tissue pathology. 

Nuclear medicine is an important modality in lameness when more than one limb is affected and/or regions within the neck, back and pelvis need to be evaluated.  Multiple areas of the skeleton can be imaged and areas typically inaccessible to other imaging modalities viewed easily.

During the procedure the horse is injected through an IV catheter with a safe radioactive dye (radioisotope) called Technetium-99. 

Approximately two hours after injection areas of increased metabolic activity (inflammation) will have a greater accumulation of isotope also known as “hot-spots”. Since the isotope is radioactive, the horse emits radiation that is detected by the gamma camera and produced into images.

From these images, the veterinarian is able to determine the affected areas and identify potential causes of lameness. Bone scans can take from one hour to four hours depending on the areas being scanned.

Post imaging horses are considered “hot”, and the radioisotope will decay out of their system over a 24-hour time period, therefore requiring overnight hospitalization.

Fairfield Equine is proud to utilize one of the highest industry standard systems in the area producing superior images.


Equine bonescan room at Fairfield Equine Veterinary
Horse undergoing a bonescan room at Fairfield Equine Veterinary