'A big day': AVC to be first vet hospital in region to have MRI scanner

·2 min read

The Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown is getting an MRI scanner.

"It's a big day for AVC," said Dr. Greg Keefe, the college's dean. "We've been wanting to move our program forward in this direction for quite a while."

An MRI scanner uses a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to create high-resolution images of bones and soft tissues in a non-invasive way, and can help doctors diagnose a variety of problems, such as brain and spinal cord disease, cancer and heart disease.

"Almost every specialty that we do here, from internal medicine to surgery to cardiology, they will all benefit from this," he said.

Keefe said the MRI will particularly help in neurology and radiology, which will help the college attract and retain more specialists in those areas.

"There's a lot of intricacies to imaging brains," Keefe noted.

The MRI is the first for vet care in the Atlantic provinces. The college receives 4,000 referrals from across the region per year.

Keefe thanked the Rathlyn Foundation — a private foundation that provides financial support to educational and medical institutions — for its support on the project, in a news release issued Thursday.

Higher expectations for pet care

Previously, veterinarians brought animals needing an MRI to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown to use its machine, but Keefe said that access was "extremely limited," and was only available for small animals.

With the new MRI the college will be able to scan horses.

The AVC also has a CT scanner, but the MRI allows vets to give even better diagnoses for some things.

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

"The caseload in the veterinary teaching hospital is growing, and the expectations of our clients is that they can receive the same diagnostics and care for their animals as they would for themselves," said Dr. Heather Gunn McQuillan, the assistant dean clinical and professional programming, in the release.

"The addition of an MRI is an important step in expanding our service delivery to meet their needs."

A section of the veterinary teaching hospital will be renovated to house the MRI. Officials say they expect the project to cost about $4 million and take up to a year to complete.

Keefe noted the MRI project is the first part of several phases of planned expansion of the hospital, including building additional capacity for an eventual diagnostic imaging centre that would serve all of Atlantic Canada.

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