Beckmann K, Steffen F, Ohlerth S, et al.
Central European tick-borne encephalomyelitis can be challenging to diagnose in dogs because the virus may not be detected in blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) after the first viremic stage of the disease. The purpose of this retrospective case series study was to describe 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (3T MRI) findings in a sample of dogs with a confirmed diagnosis of tick-borne encephalomyelitis. Dogs were included if they had neurological signs consistent with tick-borne encephalomyelitis, history of a stay in endemic areas for tick-borne encephalomyelitis virus, 3T MRI of the brain and/or spinal cord, cerebrospinal fluid changes compatible with viral infection and positive antibody titers in cerebrospinal fluid or pathologic confirmation of tick-borne encephalomyelitis. Twelve dogs met inclusion criteria. Ten out of 12 patients had 3T MRI lesions at the time of presentation. One patient had persistent lesions in follow-up MRI. The 3T MRI findings included bilateral and symmetrical gray matter distributed lesions involving the thalamus, hippocampus, brain stem, basal nuclei, and ventral horn on the spinal cord. All lesions were hyperintense in T2-weighted sequences compared to white matter, iso- to hypointense in T1-weighted, nonenhancing, and had minimal or no mass effect or perilesional edema. Six patients survived while the remaining six dogs were euthanized. Necropsy revealed neuronophagia and gliosis of the gray matter of the affected regions seen in 3T MRI, in addition to the cerebellum. Findings from the current study indicated that tick-borne encephalomyelitis should be included in the differential diagnosis list for dogs with the above described 3T MRI characteristics.