PULLMAN, Wash. — One of the most dramatic medical tools invented in modern history is now helping one of man’s oldest friends — the horse. 

Thanks to recent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) advancements, veterinarians are getting an unsurpassed look at injuries to equine athletes and companions, including both bone and soft tissues.

Medical imaging and horse experts from around the world are gathering in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Jan. 8-9 for the first comprehensive meeting ever to be conducted in this relatively new field for veterinary medicine. 

According to Dr. Russ Tucker, chief of medical imaging at the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, “It’s ground breaking in the sense that we’re bringing some of the top radiologists and equine surgeons together to see problems in horses with MRI that, in the past, were difficult, if not impossible, to discover without exploratory surgery.” 

The keynote speaker for the program will be Dr. Charles Ho, a radiologist with a special interest in musculoskeletal MRI and one of the most prestigious medical imaging specialists in the nation.  Ho has consulted with WSU’s faculty over their unmatched veterinary imaging capabilities before and has been recently hired by the National Football League’s Denver Broncos to work with their medical staff.

This is the first annual course of its type and filled to capacity almost immediately. Participants will use a computer laboratory to review images of actual equine musculoskeletal injuries. The MRI system, common in human medicine, uses magnetic energy instead of X-ray radiation to produce a series of images of both the bone structure and soft tissues. WSU’s veterinary college pioneered the use of the MRI in live horses.