A mobile Magnetic ResonanceImaging (MRI) scanner will make regular visits to the University’sSmall Animal Hospital to monitor arthritis in the dogs over a period ofsix months. This is the first time that the hospital will have on-siteaccess to MRI. The scanner will also be used to examine dogs and catsthat have been referred to the hospital for special diagnosis fordiseases such as cancer, slipped discs, and brain disorders.
Osteoarthritisis a disease of the joints causing pain, gradual loss of cartilage andlameness. In Labradors the elbow joint is commonly affected and theprogress of the disease can be quite rapid, with some Labradorsdisabled at just six months of age. Current treatments includearthroscopy to relieve pain, but as yet there is no cure for thedisease or method to slow its progress.
Veterinary surgeon,Andrew Maclaughlan said: “Until the advent of MRI there was nonon-invasive way to evaluate cartilage, so we are fortunate to havethis technology available to us at the hospital. The benefit of thissimple procedure means that we do not have to put the dog throughsurgery to look at the joints.
“We will use MRI to look insidethe elbow joint of dogs up to two years of age. The procedure will berepeated a number of times over the course of six months to help usbuild detailed images of how the disease progresses. With thepossibility of new treatments to slow down the progression ofarthritis, it is important that we develop ways to measure the effectof such drugs and MRI scanning allows us to do this in a safe anddetailed manner.”
An MRI scanner is a large cylinder that runsthrough a magnet. The patient lies inside the cylinder and radio wavesare then sent through the body. This affects the body's atoms, forcingthe nuclei into a different position. As they move back into place theysend out radio waves of their own. The scanner picks up these signalsand a computer turns them into a 2D or 3D image of different tissuetypes.
The research team is looking for adult Labrador dogs lessthan two years old that are showing early signs of elbowosteoarthritis. Further details can be obtained from the Small AnimalHospital on 0151 794 4290 or email Andrew Maclaughlan on:[email protected]
Dog owners wanting their pets to takepart in the study should discuss this with their vet first. Vets arewelcome to contact the hospital for more information.
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