Johnson PJ, Elders R, Pey P, et al.
Medial retropharyngeal lymph node (MRLN) mass lesions are a common cause of cranial cervical masses in dogs and cats, and are predominantly due to metastatic neoplasia, primary neoplasia, or inflammatory lymphadenitis. The purpose of this retrospective cross-sectional study was to test the hypothesis that clinical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) characteristics for dogs and cats with MRLN mass lesions would differ for inflammatory vs. neoplastic etiologies. Dogs and cats with MRLN mass lesions that had undergone MRI and had a confirmed cytological or histopathological diagnosis were recruited from medical record archives. Clinical findings were recorded by one observer and MRI characteristics were recorded by two other observers who were unaware of clinical findings. A total of 31 patients were sampled, with 15 in the inflammatory lymphadenitis group and 16 in the neoplasia group. Patients with inflammatory lymphadenitis were more likely to be younger and present with lethargy (P = 0.001), pyrexia (P = 0.000), and neck pain (P = 0.006). Patients with inflammatory lymphadenitis were also more likely to have a leukocystosis (P = 0.02) and segmental neutrophilia (P = 0.001). Inflammatory masses were more likely to have moderate or marked MRI perinodal contrast enhancement (P = 0.021) and local muscle contrast enhancement (P = 0.03) whereas the neoplastic masses were more likely to have greater MRI width (P = 0.002) and height (P = 0.009). In conclusion, findings indicated that some clinical and MRI characteristics differed for dogs and cats with inflammatory vs. neoplastic medial retropharyngeal lymph node masses. Although histopathological or cytological diagnosis remains necessary for confirmation, these findings may help with the ranking of differential diagnoses of future cases.