Local Anesthesia’s Effect on MRIs of Horse Feet (AAEP 2011)

Researchers recently examined whether diagnostic anesthesia could skew the results of equine foot MRIs.
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Certain things just don’t mix: oil and water, or wearing metal during X rays, for instance. But what about diagnostic anesthesia (nerve blocks) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a combination that sometimes occurs because a horse undergoes an MRI study soon after nerve blocks in a lameness exam? A team of researchers recently examined whether diagnostic anesthesia could skew the results of equine foot MRIs.

"The effect of diagnostic anesthesia on the interpretation of MRI is unknown," explained Belinda Black, BVMS, a resident at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College. "Our objective was to determine if mepivacaine (a local anesthetic) injection in the distal (lower) limb would cause variation (that’s) detectable with MRI."

During her presentation at the 2011 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Nov. 18-22 in San Antonio, Texas, Black explained that she and colleagues performed a baseline MRI (with horses under general anesthesia) up to six days prior to administering mepivacaine injections in 15 sound adult horses. They injected the local anesthetic into each horse’s navicular bursa, digital flexor tendon sheath, or the coffin joint–all textbook areas for nerve blocks. They also performed a palmar digital nerve block in each horse.

The team then repeated the MRI procedure at 24 hours and 72 hours post-injection. The horses were also under general anesthesia for these MRI procedures

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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