Magnetic Resonance Imaging Appearance Of Suspected Ischemic Myelopathy In Dogs

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Carley J. Abramson, Laurent Garosi, Simon R. Platt, et al.

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2005;46:225-229.

Ischemia and infarction of the spinal cord is a known cause of acute spinal injury in dogs. Currently, the diagnosis of spinal cord infarction in small animals is based on history, clinical signs, and the exclusion of other differentials with radiography and myelography. It is a diagnosis only confirmed through necropsy examination of the spinal cord. The aim of this paper is to describe the Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings of the spinal cord of dogs with suspected spinal cord infarcts to utilize this technology for antemortem support of this diagnosis. This retrospective study evaluated the spinal MR examinations of 11 dogs with acute onset of asymmetric nonpainful myelopathies. All patients except one (imaged at 2 months) were imaged within 1 week of clinical signs and managed conservatively with minimal medical and no surgical intervention. They were followed clinically for a minimum of 4 months after discharge. MR findings in all dogs were characterized by focal, intramedullary, hyperintense lesions on T2-weighted images with variable contrast enhancement similar to what is reported in humans. Though it could not be used to diagnose spinal cord infarction definitively, MRI was useful in excluding extramedullary spinal lesions and supporting intramedullary infarction as a cause of the acute neurologic signs. Together with the history and clinical examination findings, MRI is supportive of a diagnosis of spinal cord infarction.