Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging Reaches New Milestone with 50,000 scans

Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging continues to see success with its standing equine MRI scanner, as MRI is now considered a best practice for diagnosing lameness in the equine foot and lower limb. Hallmarq’s innovation has revolutionized veterinary care for horses. It is an easy, reliable diagnostic tool that provides vets with the information they need.  In the last year alone, the company has recorded almost 10,000 standing MRI scans helping quickly achieve their current 50,000 scan total.

Since the introduction of standing MRI (sMRI) in 2003, veterinary surgeons using the Hallmarq system have learned how lameness originating in the equine foot (sometimes termed navicular syndrome) can involve many different bones and soft tissue structures.  Conditions that were barely recognized in the past can be seen using MRI, and are now understood to underlie many otherwise puzzling lameness cases.  “Today,” says Tim Mair, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS and Hallmarq’s first customer, “MRI is our first thought for lameness located to the lower leg when there are no obvious changes on x-ray or ultrasound”.

Peggy Sproats would like more vets and horse owners to think the same way.  Owner of the 50,000th horse to be scanned, 16hh Connemara x TB gelding Bracken, she told Hallmarq “Bracken has been a good all-rounder, competing at Riding Club level Dressage, showjumping and cross-country, but he became lame at trot following work in preparation for a one-day event.  My vet did discuss MRI at the time, but I was a little reticent and so after joint consultation we decided to try a period of rest.  After that he was nerve blocked, x-rayed and rested again for several months without getting any better.”

“When we did decide to refer him to MRI,” she continued, “we understood how severe his injury was immediately, and if I was in the same situation again I would want to go to MRI much more quickly.  MRI gave us a very clear picture, without it everything was just under the umbrella label ‘navicular syndrome’.  Bracken has a severe flexor tendon lesion.  Now we know what it is we will follow our vet’s advice for treatment, but he will probably not return to full work and is likely to be retired for hacking on our farm.”

Dan Brown, BVSc, MRCVS, and Business Development Director at Hallmarq’s US office, says “Lameness specialists across the world appreciate the diagnostic benefits of MRI. Radiologists and MRI specialists interpreting images from both sMRI and high field down systems report the same high proportion of diagnostic results in both types of scanner.  But when you consider the risks of general anaesthesia1, 50,000 sMRI scans is significant not only in the number of lameness cases that have been solved but also in the number of horses imaged safely.”

“Owners are much happier to see their horse awake and standing up during the scan, he adds, “and some examinations, like racehorses shortly before a race, or repeated MRI scans for monitoring elite competition horses during the show season, would be out of the question if down scans were the only option.”

Hallmarq founder and director Nick Bolas, D.Phil, who worked with the company’s development team to design a safe, convenient, effective and affordable scanner, says “Horses are anatomically well adapted to standing still, even when asleep.  Our focus for the standing MRI was on safety for the horse, ease for the vet and a tool that could help provide answers for the owner. We wanted equine MRI to move out of the research environment into the clinic. Now with 50,000 scans and 75 scanners in 22 countries, I think we can safely say we are well on our way.”

To find out more about Hallmarq, its products and locations of standing MRI machines, visit www.hallmarq.net.


About Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging

As the sole global manufacturer of MRI systems for the standing, sedated equine, and with more than 50,000 anaesthesia-free exams on record, Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging is the pioneer of safer MRI diagnostics. The Hallmarq team has decades of experience in the design and manufacturing of clinical, research and industrial MRI systems for a range of applications globally. From its beginnings in 2003, Hallmarq’s mission has been to improve the safety, accuracy and cost-effectiveness of equine MRIs, while making them affordable and profitable to key equine veterinary clinics worldwide.


  1. Johnston G.M., Taylor P.M., Holmes M.A. and Wood J.L.N. (1995) Confidential enquiry of perioperative equine fatalities (CEPEF): preliminary results. Equine vet J 27 193-200