Brock Veterinary Clinic Offers Standing MRI Services to Horse Owners in Southwest
West Texas practice adds new Hallmarq Standing MRI to Improve Equine Care
When you’re seeing more than 11,000 equine patients a year and the nearest MRI unit is a six- to seven-hour drive from your practice to a location in another state, it was time to do something. In this case, necessity and the desire to improve the quality of patient care were the driving forces behind Dr. Bo Brock’s decision to install a standing MRI unit at Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.
“We see a lot of lameness and lower-leg issues in the horses that come to us,” says Dr. Brock, owner of the rural West Texas practice he started in 1992. “And in a region with a large number of horses and few diagnostic options close by, there was a real need for clients and patients to have more convenient access to diagnostic-imaging services.”
Dr. Brock notes that for some horse owners in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, the nearest MRI could be as long as a 12-hour drive to another practice in Arizona or Denver. That distance makes hauling an injured horse often impractical and very inconvenient.
Today, the 24-year-old mixed-animal practice, which includes seven veterinarians and 25 staff members, serves clients with a wide variety of performance and race horses. The practice provides a wide range of orthopedic surgery, sports medicine, rehabilitation and other services for their patients.
“We installed a Hallmarq standing MRI in April and used it on about 30 patients the first three months,” Dr. Brock says. “Because of it, we have found things we could not have even dreamed of before we had it, and we’ve learned things about a horse’s foot that we only speculated about before we got it.”
While Dr. Brock says it is expensive, it’s not as expensive as spending $400 at a time shooting blindly at an unknown problem or until the owner has spent thousands of dollars trying to fix a problem that can’t be diagnosed without proper imaging.
“In a short amount of time, it’s already had a positive impact on our ability to more quickly and accurately diagnose lameness issues in horses in this region,” the veterinarian says.
“More importantly, it’s made it much more convenient for our clients and helped us improve the overall quality of care and treatment we can provide our equine patients, with fewer risks and potential problems. With patients and clients in nearly 750 ZIP Codes, it fills a large diagnostic-imaging hole in this area.”
Why a standing MRI versus conventional recumbent large-animal MRI unit? Dr. Brock says 90 percent of the lameness issues they see are in the lower leg, and obtaining a clear, accurate MRI image is critical. Unfortunately, he’s seen more than enough problem with horses under anesthesia to know that if there’s a safer option, that’s what he wants to offer his clients.
“Standing MRI provides the quality of diagnostic imaging we need to accurately diagnose a problem, without the recovery issues and potential problems that horses under anesthesia can have with traditional prone MRI systems,” Dr. Brock explains. “Of the 500 or so horses I’ve sent out for traditional MRI, I’ve had seven die from complications associated with recovery from anesthesia. To me, it’s not worth the risk if there’s a safer option.”
Dr. Brock says times have changed greatly for horse owners in the region and in the quality of care that’s now available.
“I saw 96 horses the first year I was in practice, and over the past two decades we’ve worked hard to build and maintain a reputation for providing safe, high-quality equine care to clients,” he adds. “Now, being able to offer high-level imaging with a Hallmarq standing MRI helps us enhance that care for horses and make it much more accessible and convenient for clients.”
To find out more about Brock Veterinary Clinic, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/BrockVetClinic.