Veterinary facilities began installing magnetic resonance (MR) scanners in the 1990s. Since then, the clinical application of MR has increased in parallel with the development of specialized veterinary medicine, particularly in the field of neurology, which has been altered by MR. Similarly, the introduction of MR in horses has revolutionized the diagnosis of foot lameness. As MR imaging technology evolves and MR scanners become more readily available for the veterinary profession, there is a growing need for more teaching and research on the use of this remarkable modality.
On July 3, 1977, the first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed on a living human patient. MRI, which identifies atoms based on their behavior in a magnetic field, has become an extremely useful non-invasive method for imagining internal body structures and diagnosing diseases. The life-saving medical technique is based on the work of physicist I. Rabi, who developed a method for measuring the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei in the 1930s.
In the past, MRI systems were large and expensive to purchase, install, and maintain, but there are many smaller, low-field magnets available, including some specifically designed for use in veterinary medicine. Although MRI is most commonly performed in the clinic at 1.5 T, higher ranges such as 3 T for clinical imaging and more recently 7 T for research are gaining popularity due to their increased sensitivity and resolution. Although this is less of a concern in veterinary medicine, the possibility of obtaining diagnostic images without the use of ionizing radiation is desirable for veterinary staff.