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Magnetic Resonance Imaging Appearance of the Cisterna Chyli

Victoria S. Johnson and Gabriela Seiler

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound, 2006. 47(5): p.461-464.

Thoracolumbar spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations in dogs frequently include the region of the cisterna chyli within the field of view. It is important to be aware of the appearance and location of this structure to avoid confusing it for a pathologic periaortic lesion. MRI examinations of the thoracolumbar spine were reviewed in 30 dogs. The cisterna chyli was identified in 26 dogs and was most commonly located caudal to the diaphragmatic crura at the level of L4; afferent and efferent lymphatics were seen in all dogs. Transverse T2-weighted images were the most useful to locate the cisterna chyli. It was isointense to fluid on T2-weighted images and isointense to muscle on T1-weighted images. Mild contrast enhancement was seen in three dogs. The cisterna always wrapped around the aorta, but varied in shape, with the most common being the wide right dorsolateral ellipse. The thoracic duct was also visible in 30 dogs. MRI may have potential for noninvasive evaluation of the abdominal and thoracic lymphatic ducts in dogs.