First vets' MRI scanner will give inside track on ill pets
Cedar Grove Veterinary Clinic in Belfast has taken a big leap forward in its care offered to the anxious owners of sick cats and dogs.
It has just installed a permanent MRI scanner – the first in Northern Ireland designed for household pets.
The hi-tech machine, which cost in excess of £100,000, is an advanced form of X-ray allowing for detailed analysis of soft tissue and bone in animals.
It has been hailed as the gold standard for diagnosing some of the more complicated conditions cats and dogs suffer.
Cedar Grove owner John Heatherington, a senior veterinary surgeon, told the Belfast Telegraph the scanner will benefit animals across the country as the imaging from it provides accurate information to target fractures, spinal, neurological and orthopaedic surgery.
However, while it is perfect for the likes of our cats and dogs, it is not suitable for bigger animals like horses and cows.
"This MRI machine gives us a really nice tool to allow us to further and more accurately diagnose certain conditions, especially soft tissue problems such as spinal cord injury and disease, and brain injury and disease," he said.
"It also has a wide range of uses in all aspects of veterinary medicine from diagnosis of orthopaedic conditions to neurological disease. It is an advanced form of X-ray. X-ray gives details of bones, but this machine gives us detailed information about soft tissue and bone."
Cedar Grove, on the Upper Knockbreda Road in south Belfast, was started 60 years ago by one vet whose home was also part of the premises, later becoming a major centre for companion animal care.
Around 30 staff operate from the premises, which is a 24/7 operation, including seven full-time vets and 10 veterinary nurses, as well as administrative and support staff.
The new MRI machine will be located at Cedar Grove, but vets across Ireland will be able to access it.
"We will use it for our cases, but it is a facility we are happy to open to other vets across Ireland," Mr Heatherington added.