What Is Anesthesia Used For In Veterinary Neurology?

We all know that, just like in human medicine, anesthesia is used for surgical procedures in veterinary medicine. However, pets need anesthesia for some noninvasive procedures too. Generally, any procedure that requires a dog or cat to stay perfectly still for any significant amount of time requires anesthesia. In veterinary neurology, pet anesthesia is routinely used for procedures other than surgery, most notably for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


MRI is a completely painless, noninvasive way of looking at the internal structures of the body. It is actually the advanced imaging technology of choice for examining soft tissues in dogs and cats, including the brain and spinal cord.

Using an exceptionally strong magnet and highly specialized equipment, MRI devices are able to take a more comprehensive picture of the inside of a pet’s body than other imaging techniques.

Pet anesthesia is required for MRI because dogs and cats must lie completely still in the center of the magnet for the entire duration.


Safe pet anesthesia relies on knowledgeable drug choices, reliable technology, and the careful screening, monitoring, and support of dogs and cats before, during, and after the MRI.

At Southeast Veterinary Neurology (SEVN), we use the most advanced technology available in veterinary medicine, including a highly specialized MRI-safe anesthesia machine and small animal ventilator by Mallard Medical. Additionally, our state-of-the-art high-field MRI works faster than less powerful MRIs, so dogs and cats do not require as much anesthesia. This makes the procedure even safer.

As a modern veterinary hospital, SEVN works with the most up-to-date and sophisticated guidelines, drugs, and monitoring systems available in order to minimize any risks of pet anesthesia. Our highly trained and talented team reduces that risk even further.


In veterinary neurology, clinical signs tend to indicate where the problem is located within the nervous system, rather than identifying exactly what the problem is. Various neurological conditions in pets can actually share the same symptoms. Therefore, finding the underlying cause is integral to developing an appropriate treatment plan, as well as predicting a patient’s likelihood of recovery.

Radiographs (X-rays) are perfect for looking at the bones and lungs, because air shows up dark while bone and metal show up white. However, they aren’t helpful in assessing the soft tissues of the nervous system for two reasons. The first reason is that all tissues show up as a similar shade of gray. The second issue is that X-rays only produce two-dimensional pictures, so organs overlap.

Computed tomography (CT) scans use X-rays plus a computer to eliminate the organ overlap problem seen in X-rays, but this does not improve the issue of poor tissue resolution. It is difficult to observe small changes in tissues when all soft tissues present as close shades of gray.

Most conditions affecting the nervous system are best tested for with MRI. MRI uses different pulse sequences to accentuate various types of tissues in the body, resulting in much better tissue resolution. Therefore, MRIs can uncover many problems in dogs and cats that CT scans will miss including:

It is also possible for CT scans to misdiagnose harmless processes as being serious, leading to unnecessary treatment or worse. At SEVN, we often review CT scans from other hospitals that have resulted in erroneous diagnoses.


MRI is the gold standard for evaluating the nervous system. What that means for us is that we’re able to achieve a more accurate diagnosis in less time. What that means for pets and their families is that we’re more likely to be able to facilitate a positive outcome.

For many neurological conditions in dogs and cats, timely treatment can mean the difference between recovery and permanent damage, or even between life and death. Southeast Veterinary Neurology has teams of compassionate experts across South Florida and in Virginia Beach standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist families with pets affected by neurological disease.


  1. Telkom University on May 14, 2024 at 7:02 am

    Nice for information

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