Staff profiles: Rex Miller
What is the difference between using an MRI machine on humans and using one on animals?
The only difference is that the animals have to be sedated, said Rex Miller, a radiology service manager for diagnostic imaging in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. This prevents them from moving during the scanning process.
Miller supervises and runs the MRI machine and assists with other radiographic procedures in the department.
"MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It’s a form of medical imaging where we use magnets and radio waves as opposed to typical X-rays that you would get with obviously an X-ray exam or CT scan," Miller said.
While X-rays are used to examine bones, MRI is used to look at soft tissues such as the brain, spinal cord and muscles.
A wide variety of animals are seen by the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, including pets, farm animals such as goats, cows and pigs and even a ring-tailed lemur from Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo, Miller said.
"We may have a bald eagle come in from the Wildlife Service one day wanting to have an X-ray of the wing or something along that line,” Miller said. “We’ve X-rayed geckos, small rodents to dogs and cats and horses, of course."
The College of Veterinary Medicine acquired the MRI machine two years ago. Only about four or five veterinary hospitals in the U.S. have this technology, Miller said. And according to 2011 rankings by U.S. News and World Report, MSU’s veterinary medicine graduate program is ranked ninth in the nation.
"We’re very fortunate to have it here," Miller said. "It opens up a whole new world in veterinary medicine as far as medical imaging goes."