|Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging has been named as a winner of the Institute of Physics Innovation Award 2015. The IOP Innovation Awards recognise companies that have achieved significant commercial success built on physics.Hallmarq developed the world’s first, and still only, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system for the standing horse. The EQ2, Hallmarq’s standing equine MRI, has completely changed how vets approach equine lameness.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnet and radio waves to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body. MRI can show veterinarians both soft tissue structures and bone. Ultrasound cannot penetrate the hoof wall or other structures in the leg, giving MRI a unique ability to visualise complex soft tissue ligaments and tendons of the foot, fetlock and knee joints. MRI also reveals subtle changes in bone at an earlier stage than x-rays or CT.
The EQ2 was invented and is still manufactured in the UK.Calling on their decades of experience in the design and manufacture of global clinical, research and industrial MRI systems, the Hallmarq development team recognised how important it would be to correct for the slight movement of the foot and leg of a standing horse. Their innovative solution uses MRI itself to detect movement and, if found, “rewinds” and repeats part of the scan, adjusting for the new location. Delivering this capability involved applications, software and hardware scientists co-operating to integrate unique features into the deepest levels of Hallmarq’s own MRI hardware and software.
As a result of the invention of standing MRI, horses no longer need to be anaesthetised to undergo an MRI procedure. Anaesthetic deaths are a significant risk in horses, so the EQ2 means that MRI can be used as a diagnostic tool safely and routinely, not just for high performance race horses, but also much loved family ponies too. As MRI has a diagnostic success rate in the region of 90%, the ability of vets to successfully treat all kinds of lameness has changed forever as a result of its use.
Hallmarq CEO Jos Belgrave is an experienced equine vet, “Following our two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, I am especially delighted that our development team has been recognised by the Institute of Physics for the innovations that have allowed the Hallmarq EQ2 to deliver exceptional image quality under challenging conditions.”
He continued, “Hallmarq’s EQ2 has genuinely helped alleviate pain and saved the lives of thousands of horses around the world. That in itself is very rewarding. Innovations in our latest product, the 1.5T PetVet MRI, will equally help vets to diagnose and treat companion animals”
The IOP Award also recognises the commercial success of EQ2, due in no small part to the novel commercial partnerships introduced by Hallmarq using a ‘pay as you go’ invoicing model. This win-win approach has increased accessibility to MRI as a tool for both equine and companion animal veterinarians.