New Faculty, New MRI Take Illinois Neuro and Cardio to the Top

Nov 8, 2016 / Message from the Dean

[mri arriving at Illinois]

This message appeared in the October 2016 issue of the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association Bulletin.

3T MRI Arrived Nov. 7 Wrapped in Orange and Blue

It’s official. Neurology and cardiology services are back in a big way at Illinois.

Veterinary neurologist Devon Hague, who joined our faculty in 2012, and veterinary cardiologist Ryan Fries, who arrived at Illinois in 2014, have each welcomed a second clinician to their service areas. That means both services will operate full-time.

[mri Drs. Hague and Foss]

Veterinary neurologists Dr. Devon Hague and Dr. Kari Foss are looking forward to integrating the new MRI into their service.

And by year’s end, they’ll both be using a state-of-the-art MRI equipped to image large and small animal patients. A top-of-the-line Siemens “Skyra” 3 Tesla magnet MRI will deliver the “best diagnostic modality for clinical patients,” says Dr. Hague.

“The more powerful magnet means increased resolution of images and decreased time under anesthesia for patients,” she says, “while the costs will be kept competitive.”

“Neurologists need advanced imaging because they have no other way to see what’s going on with their patients,” adds Kari Foss, a boarded neurologist who joined the faculty this fall. A 2008 DVM graduate of Illinois, Dr. Foss completed an internship at Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Irvine and a master’s degree and neurology residency at The Ohio State University.

“Having two neurologists on our service will mean we are always available for referrals or consultations,” says Dr. Foss.

“With a 3T magnet we’ll have the same MRI capabilities as the university’s Beckman Institute, a world-class imaging research program,” says Dr. Hague. “This opens up opportunities to collaborate with biophysicists there to develop new imaging sequences for animal patients.”

The expanded capacity for patient care and advancing the field of neurology will mean good things for CVMA members and their clients.

“We love our Chicago neurologists!” says Dr. Hague.

[mri Drs. Fries, Kadotani, and Vitt]

Veterinary cardiologists Dr. Ryan Fries (left) and Dr. Jordan Vitt (right), along with cardiology resident Dr. Saki Kadotani, spoke to a group of Chicago-area veterinarians in September.

Dr. Fries has his sights set on a more global goal for cardiology:

“We are planning for Illinois to become the center for cardiac MRI in veterinary medicine,” he says.

“No one else in veterinary cardiology is using the MRI for clinical care. We intend to be the first.”

Because this is groundbreaking territory in the veterinary world, Dr. Fries has gained cardiac MRI certification at human health organizations: Northwestern University Hospital and the Society for Cardiac MRI.

“MRI protocols for hearts have never been implemented in veterinary medicine. This is a new way for evaluating cardiac disease in animal patients,” he says. “We will be applying this technology across the board. Once we have established protocols, we will begin clinical trials to explore new standards of veterinary cardiac care.”

He cites the example of taking a biopsy of heart tissue. The current standard is a highly invasive procedure, but using the MRI eliminates the need for extensive surgery.

Like neurology, the cardiology service anticipates many research uses for the 3T MRI.

“We will be able to tackle tough clinical questions such as why some patients respond well to treatment and others do not,” says Dr. Fries.

Dr. Jordan Vitt joined the cardiology service in August. He earned his veterinary degree at The Ohio State University, then completed an internship at the University of Pennsylvania and a residency in cardiology at Texas A&M.

Illinois is the only veterinary cardiology service in the state that offers interventional treatment, including correction of congenital heart defects, implantation of pacemakers, heartworm extraction, and repair of portosystemic shunts without surgery.

—Dean Peter Constable