A Closer Look at Cushings Disease: Equine MRI of the Brain at Michigan State Vet School

Have you experienced an MRI with a horse yet?
It’s not a matter of if but when you will…
And it’s not just for lameness diagnosis!

The Jurga Report was missing in action last week while your fearless blogger went behind the scenes at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in East Lansing, Michigan. As the guest of Equinology, I participated in a short course on sport horse science that was open to non-vets and non-PhDs. You’ll be seeing and hearing and watching and reading about a lot of the doors that Equinology opened to equestrians and equine bodyworkers from Europe and North and South America.

But beyond all our joint palpations and the intriguing lectures of Dr. Hilary Clayton, McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at the Mary Anne McPhail Equine Performance Center, we could sense the bigger vet school‘s heart was thumping away. Horse trailers came and went. Surgeries began and ended. The students were taking finals. Graduation was just days away.

Michigan State’s vet school is evolving into a much horsier campus than it was the last time I visited, just a few years ago, and the McPhail Center has anchored the whole large animal side of the school firmly in the horse world. But technology has played as much a role as the fine fluffy footing of Dr Clayton’s arena or the dressage saddles slung over chairs in the McPhail Center offices. (Does anyone sit in the chairs or are they really saddle racks?)

I sensed the technology when looking through Dr. Robert Bowker’s Equine Foot Laboratory microscope at the delicate mesh of the corium of the coffin bone or the papillae of the coronary band. Stall markers identified horses as recipients of nuclear isotopes for scintigraphy evaluations. And now horses at Michigan State can undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of limbs, necks and heads, size permitting, as shown in this video.

For those who may not be familiar with the disease, true  Cushings disease is a tumor in one specific location in the brain that affects hormone production and the regulation of certain body functions. This often includes a disruption of the horse’s ability to regulate hair growth on a normal basis. Knowing that a horse actually has the disease and not just a set of symptoms related to other endocrine conditions would be helpful and Michigan State’s new MRI could be a lifesaver to a horse like the one is this video.

To learn more: Good research on Cushings disease is compiled at the laminitisresearch.org web site of Dr. Chris Pollitt and the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit at the University of Queensland.

by Fran Jurga | 13 May 2010 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com 

jumping-foal-713469 Follow @FranJurga on Twitter.com for horse health news!
Thanks to Equinology and everyone at the McPhail Center!

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