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Postoperative Susceptibility Artifact During Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Vertebral Column in Two Dogs and a Cat

Sean R. Freer P.V.S.

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound, 2008. 49(1): p.30-34.

In humans that have undergone cervical diskectomy, magnetic susceptibility artifacts are often found on postoperative magnetic resonance (MR) images of the affected region. In some patients, these artifacts complicate image interpretation, while in others the artifacts lead to a false diagnosis of spinal cord compression. We describe two dogs and one cat that had susceptibility artifacts visible in postoperative MR images. In each patient, multiple, small-to-large, distinct, magnetic susceptibility artifacts were visible along the surgery site. In both dogs, interpretation was impossible and subsequently computed tomography (CT) was performed. During CT, no cause for the MR artifact was identified. The most likely source of the artifact is microscopic metal fragments from the burr, suction tip or other surgical instruments, but other possible causes include hemorrhage or paramagnetic suture material. These artifacts may cause difficulty in interpretation or suggest a clinical problem. MR imaging therefore might not be the most appropriate examination for patients following certain types of surgery due to the possibility of susceptibility artifacts. Although this artifact probably is common in the postoperative patient, the frequency that this finding will prevent accurate diagnosis is unknown.