Feb 052003
Authors: Helyna Bledsoe

The CSU Animal Cancer Center is one of the top medical facilities in the United States, and the addition of a $2 million magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy suite adds to the vet program’s excellence.

The state-of-the-art MRI, which was part of a new building project at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, allows medical researchers as well as doctors to gather images of small animals’ bodies.

“It’s a great educational tool,” said Susan Kraft, associate professor in radiology. “The imaging suite shows the anatomy of the body that we haven’t been able to see before.”

Aside from showing the anatomy, the MRI is helpful for veterinary students because it allows them to see how disease spreads and how it affects the body, Kraft said.

“We use the MRI clinically to study neurological, cancer and joint problems in pets,” Kraft said.

The MRI system can show the chemical levels within the body as well as the molecular levels and anatomical functions. Diseased tissue is found by stimulating tissue with a magnetic field and radio waves. When the stimulated tissue returns to its relaxed state, tissue readings can be made.

“This system is so sensitive that we can detect changes earlier than we would find with a CT scan, for example,” Kraft said in a recent press release. “So if tissues are abnormal, we can often detect it, even if it’s not large enough to create a noticeable change on radiographs.”

Small animal owners are taking advantage of the state-of-the art system.

“Increasingly they are requesting this technology be made available for assessing the medical condition of their pet,” Kraft said.

Funding for the suite was roughly 80 percent private donations, Kraft said. The Office of the Dean for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and others also contributed to the suite.

“I think it’s nice and it’s good for people who love their pets but spending $2 million on something like a scanner for pets seems a little extreme,” said Kerri Wheeler, freshman open-option major.

The MRI is now available to small animal practitioners in an effort to help their clients as well as train people seeking a career in imaging.

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