Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs) on cats can help diagnose a range of health issues, from a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament to brain tumors, and more. Here, our Upland vets discuss how an MRI can detect a variety of health issues in cats.
Veterinary Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRIs have been readily available to help diagnose human health conditions since the early 1980s, but it wasn't until recently that veterinary MRIs became more widely used.
Why Veterinary MRIs Are Helpful
While it can often be easy to see that a pet is experiencing pain or discomfort, because our cats can't explain what they feel, we rely on diagnostic examinations and testing to find the root of the problem. Veterinary MRI scans allow us to evaluate the inside of your cat's body in a non-invasive way.
High-resolution, detailed images of your pet's soft tissues, including the brain, spinal cord, ligaments, tendons, and abdominal organs, can be given to your veterinarian through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Compared to other diagnostic imaging methods like X-rays or CT scans, veterinary MRI frequently offers a more detailed image of your cat's body when it comes to many soft tissue injuries or diseases.
Conditions That MRIs Can Diagnose
Your veterinarian might suggest an MRI to help identify the source of your cat's symptoms if they include lameness, paralysis, joint pain, neck pain, seizures, or limping. Cats with a variety of conditions can benefit from MRI scans, including:
- Spinal disc tumor, herniated discs, or stenosis
- Brain tumor, inflammation, or abscess
- Musculoskeletal diseases and injuries such as ruptured cranial cruciate ligament or shoulder instability
- Abdomen conditions indicated by organ enlargement or a tumor
The MRI Process
An MRI scan for cats takes 45 minutes to an hour, and both people and pets must remain motionless during the entire procedure. It goes without saying that it would be impossible to get a cat to remain motionless in a strange machine for forty-five minutes. That's why cats having an MRI get a general anesthetic. For the purpose of ensuring that your pet is healthy enough to undergo general anesthesia, veterinarians usually advise having blood work and X-rays completed prior to the MRI.
Possible Drawbacks of MRI Imaging for Cats
The need for general anesthetic is one of the primary drawbacks of MRI for veterinary diagnostics. Some cats may not be strong enough to go under anesthetic, meaning that MRI will not be possible for those pets.
While MRI is particularly useful in diagnosing brain, spinal cord, and ligament issues, there are other conditions which are better detected using other diagnostic imaging tools such as CT and radiography (X-rays). MRI may be less helpful when diagnosing internal organs, fractures, or head trauma in cats.
MRI's expense is yet another disadvantage. Your location, the size of your pet, and other variables affect how much an MRI for cats will cost. Contact your veterinarian's team to receive a precise quote for the cost of your pet's MRI. The majority of hospitals are pleased to offer pet parents a thorough estimate and address any concerns they may have.
Pet insurance plans will typically cover the cost of diagnostic testing such as MRI, but it's important to check with your insurer to see if MRI is part of your pet's coverage.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets.