Atlantic Vet College now has its own state-of-the-art MRI machine
The Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown is now the proud owner of a state-of-the-art MRI machine, and officials expect it will improve education, research and treatment.
The machine was manufactured in Germany, flown to Chicago and then carefully transported to Prince Edward Island on special trailers. A crane and a coordinated rigging system were required to bring the 4,200 kilogram machine into the college.
“Right now we are one of the few MRI units in an animal hospital in Atlantic Canada,” said Dr. Heather Gunn McQuillan, associate dean of clinical and professional programming at the college. “Today is a big day.”
Work has been going on for several years to bring this MRI machine to AVC.
In the past, some small animals at Charlottetown’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital could be scanned with MRI technology – but nothing was available for larger animals like horses or cows.
Now all that work can be done at Atlantic Canada’s only veterinary college.
“It helps with the logistics,” Gunn McQuillan said. “Now we don’t have to go there on a fixed day of the week, and now we don’t have to try to arrange all sorts of different schedules. It is available to us here in the house at any time.”
The machine is actually designed for human use, but will be set up to accommodate both humans and animals. Gunn McQuillan said this means it will support advanced human and animal research at AVC and UPEI – and provide educational opportunities for many students.
“Our students will benefit from learning with this modality, from learning on this machine,” she said. “And our residents, the people who become surgeons and radiologists, will also learn on this device. So it’s really one of those things that’s going to have an exponential impact on the next generation of veterinarians and all the people they serve.”
She said there are no current plans to make the device available to Islanders awaiting access to an MRI, but said the college is open to it.
The multi-million dollar purchase was made possible by a large private donation to the college. The new MRI is part of a larger project to expand the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, which includes plans for a refurbished CT scanner, some ultrasound machines, and endoscopy and fluoroscopy equipment.
Gunn McQuillan says it will take several months to set up the MRI machine – and provide training. The aim is to make it available to patients this spring.
“It was an amazing process to watch everyone come together with him,” she said. “I have been running the hospital for eight years. It gives me incredible pleasure to see this major project emerge. I’m just so proud.”