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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

The Equine Medical Center offers low-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services for evaluation of the lower limbs in the standing, sedated horse. With the launch of our MRI in 2004, we became the first equine hospital on the East Coast to offer this service.

Benefits of MRI

  • Magnetic resonance imaging provides detailed images of bones and soft tissues in the lower limbs and can identify areas of inflammation and changes that cannot be detected by radiographs and ultrasound.
  • MRI is recommended for identifying the source of pain to ensure an accurate diagnosis when evaluating the foot or lower limb.

About the procedure

  • MRI is performed by appointment.
  • Prior to the exam, shoes — on both front feet if the front foot is affected, or both hind feet if the hind foot is affected — are removed. Shoes can be removed at the Equine Center if you are unable to arrange this with your farrier or if your horse cannot travel without shoes.
  • Prior to the MRI exam, a radiograph of each foot is performed to detect metal, such as a remnant of a horse shoe nail that must be removed prior to placing the foot in the magnet. The charge for shoe removal and radiographs is included in the price of the MRI exam.
  • During the MRI examination, which takes 2 to 4 hours, the horse is sedated while hundreds of images are captured to be analyzed by the faculty clinician. A report of findings and recommendations is provided within 72 hours.

Appointments and referrals:

To schedule an appointment, refer a patient, or inquire about diagnostic imaging or other clinical services, please call 703-771-6800 or email

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MRI procedure