Clients & Visitors

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)


The EMC's in-house MRI offers an excellent way to diagnose problems in horses' lower limbs.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 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. MRI is recommended for identifying the source of pain, ensuring an accurate diagnosis, and evaluating the structure of the foot or lower limb.

We offer both high-field and low-field MRI services. Our in-house unit is the low-field MRI where a horse's’ lower limbs can be evaluated while they are sedated and standing. The high-field MRI is a mobile unit that comes to the EMC at least once per month. In undergoing a high-field MRI procedure, the horse needs to be fully anesthetized.

Our expertise

The EMC was the first equine hospital on the east coast to offer MRI. We have offered the service since 2004 and our faculty surgeons have the experience and expertise to read the images and offer an accurate diagnosis.

The procedure

  • MRIs are performed by appointment.
  • Shoes (both front feet, if the front foot is affected, or both hind feet, if the hind foot is affected) will have to be pulled prior to the exam. We can remove the shoes at the EMC if you are unable to arrange this with your farrier or if your horse cannot travel without shoes on.
  • Prior to the MRI exam, a radiograph of each foot is performed to detect any metal, such as a remnant of a horse shoe nail which must be removed prior to placing the foot in the magnet. The charge for the radiographs is included in the price of the MRI exam.
  • For the low-field MRI exam, the horse is given sedation so he is calm but awake. During the 2-4 hour exam, hundreds of images are captured that are then compiled and analyzed by faculty experts. A diagnosis is reported within 72 hours.
  • For the high-field MRI exam, the horse is examined while under general anesthesia (link). During the 2-hour exam, hundreds of images are captured that are then compiled and analyzed by faculty experts. A diagnosis is reported within 72 hours.


To learn more about MRI, these articles will explain the subject in more detail:

About MRI appointments

  • MRIs are performed by appointment and results are evaluated by EMC faculty and reported within 72 hours.
  • For an appointment or for more information, call 703-771-6800 or email
  • For more information about the high field MRI service, and the dates it will be at the EMC throughout 2011, please see EMC now offers high field MRI services. (PDF)
  • View the Client Care Packet (PDF) to learn more about what to expect when you bring your horse for an MRI.

Faculty clinicians

The following faculty have extensive experience in reading and interpreting MRI findings.