Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging Teams Up with the Dolly Green Research Foundation on Standing MRI Unit at Santa Anita Racetrack

Can MRI technology, the gold standard for diagnosing human sports injuries, offer an effective diagnostic solution for veterinarians and racehorse trainers?

A group consisting of the Dolly Green Research Foundation and The Southern California Equine Foundation as well as several individuals recently came together to purchase and install a Standing Equine MRI system from Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging at Santa Anita Park racetrack. Courtesy Hallmarq

A group consisting of the Dolly Green Research Foundation and The Southern California Equine Foundation as well as several individuals recently came together to purchase and install a Standing Equine MRI system from Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging at Santa Anita Park racetrack. The group is working closely with the Stronach Group, owners of Santa Anita, to introduce the technology to veterinarians and trainers.

“The Stronach Group is excited about the addition of a standing MRI to the existing diagnostic options for horses at Santa Anita Park,” said Dr. Dionne Benson, chief veterinary officer for The Stronach Group. “Together with the standing PET (Positron Emission Tomography) system, which was installed at Santa Anita late last year, these new modalities greatly improve the ability to identify preexisting conditions, an important step in ensuring horse safety and welfare.”

The groups began fundraising for the MRI last fall and were able to reach their target goals to allow the purchase and recent installation.

“Hallmarq’s Standing Equine MRI (sMRI) system brings the same diagnostic capability to equine clinical practice as the human sports medicine field,” said Dan Brown, DVM, vice president and chief customer officer at Hallmarq. According to Brown, there have been close to 70 horses diagnosed using the Hallmarq MRI at Santa Anita.

Brown said that soft tissues are very hard to evaluate on radiographs, and bone changes will show up on MRI weeks before they can be seen on X ray, which can make a big difference for a horse trainer contemplating entering a horse in an upcoming race.

With the equine patient being at the forefront of every design decision, Hallmarq’s unique sMRI capability avoids the risks associated with general anesthesia and allows equine veterinarians to offer clients the most advanced lameness diagnosis method on an outpatient basis.

“Traditional lameness diagnosis is often a cycle of trial and review that relies on a slow process of elimination,” said Brown, a former veterinarian with over 20 years’ experience in the veterinary profession.

“The integration of Hallmarq’s standing MRI to our diagnostic imaging center at Santa Anita has been seamless,” said Ryan Carpenter, DVM. Carpenter is one of the on-track veterinarians who cares for horses that race at Santa Anita. “Being able to identify bone pathology at the earliest stages allows us to intervene long before these abnormalities could be seen on radiographs. Knowing that we have this technology at our fingertips where horses can literally walk out of their stall, undergo sMRI and be back in a matter of a couple of hours speaks to the commitment to greater safety for our athletes.”

Hallmarq has developed unique equine expertise over almost two decades by imaging more than 100,000 horses at 100 sites over six continents. With Q-Care, Hallmarq’s world-class support system, customers have experienced uptime of greater than 99% and upgrades to their systems to ensure that practices enjoy a diagnostic rate in excess of 90%.

Other racetracks have used the system, including the world-famous Hong Kong Jockey Club.

“We installed the Hallmarq standing MRI in 2013 and since then have performed hundreds of examinations of the lower limbs primarily in Thoroughbred racehorses,” said Paul Robinson, BVSc, DACVS-LA, Head of Veterinary Clinical Services at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. “We have found the information obtained to be invaluable in the identification of injuries that are not visible on conventional imaging modalities and it has helped us to manage a variety of conditions using an objective, targeted approach. Of great interest in our population is the capability to perform multiple follow-up studies of the region of interest to monitor the healing process of subchondral bone lesions in the lower cannon bone of our thoroughbred population.”

Standing Equine MRI Benefits:

  • MRI can show problems that are not visible, or at an earlier stage than they would show up on any other imaging method.
  • Standing MRI occurs under very light sedation, without anesthesia. This both eliminates risk of injury and makes it much easier for a client to say “yes” than conventional ‘down’ MRI.
  • MRI involves no radiation unlike, CT, bone scanning or radiography.

About Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging

Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging is an award-winning global leader in innovative diagnostic imaging solutions. As industry specialists, we focus on providing safe, accurate, and affordable advanced imaging for practicing veterinarians worldwide.

With a shared passion for improving animal health, we’ve partnered with our customers since 2000 to support imaging of over 100,000 animals in 24 countries. Our exclusive dedication to the industry and exceptional support we provide our customers has resulted in increased access to advanced clinical systems for small animal and equine practices around the globe.

Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging Ltd. has offices in the U.K. and North America. Find out more at and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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