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Clinical features and magnetic resonance imaging characteristics of diskospondylitis in dogs: 23 cases (1997–2010)

Jeanene M. Harris DVM, MS, DACVIM1, Annie V. Chen DVM, MS, DACVIM2, Russell L. Tucker DVM, DACVR3, and John S. Mattoon DVM, DACVR4
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  • 1 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164.
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164.
  • | 3 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164.
  • | 4 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164.

Abstract

Objective—To describe the signalment, clinical features, and most common MRI characteristics in dogs with diskospondylitis and investigate whether a correlation exists between the degree of spinal cord compression and neurologic status of the patient.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—23 dogs.

Procedures—The medical records and imaging database of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Washington State University were retrospectively cross-referenced for cases of diskospondylitis in dogs from 1997 through 2010. Signalment, clinical signs, MRI characteristics, and results of bacteriologic cultures of urine, blood, CSF, or intervertebral disk material were reviewed.

Results—On T2-weighted sequences, vertebral endplates were most often of mixed signal intensity, whereas the vertebral body was hypointense. The intervertebral disk space was most often hyperintense on T2-weighted and short tau inversion recovery sequences and of mixed signal intensity on T1-weighted sequences. Paravertebral soft tissue hyperintensities were noted commonly on T2-weighted and short tau inversion recovery sequences. Heterogenous contrast enhancement of endplates and intervertebral disk spaces also occurred commonly, whereas contrast enhancement of vertebral bodies and paravertebral soft tissues was uncommon. Intramedullary spinal cord intensity was noted at 10 of 27 sites on T2-weighted sequences. Static spinal cord compression occurred in 17 of 23 dogs, and a significant direct correlation was found between the percentage of spinal cord compression and the patient neurologic score.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that diskospondylitis in dogs has a characteristic MRI appearance, and in some patients, MRI may aid in the identification of severe spinal cord compression, which could warrant surgical intervention.

Abstract

Objective—To describe the signalment, clinical features, and most common MRI characteristics in dogs with diskospondylitis and investigate whether a correlation exists between the degree of spinal cord compression and neurologic status of the patient.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—23 dogs.

Procedures—The medical records and imaging database of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Washington State University were retrospectively cross-referenced for cases of diskospondylitis in dogs from 1997 through 2010. Signalment, clinical signs, MRI characteristics, and results of bacteriologic cultures of urine, blood, CSF, or intervertebral disk material were reviewed.

Results—On T2-weighted sequences, vertebral endplates were most often of mixed signal intensity, whereas the vertebral body was hypointense. The intervertebral disk space was most often hyperintense on T2-weighted and short tau inversion recovery sequences and of mixed signal intensity on T1-weighted sequences. Paravertebral soft tissue hyperintensities were noted commonly on T2-weighted and short tau inversion recovery sequences. Heterogenous contrast enhancement of endplates and intervertebral disk spaces also occurred commonly, whereas contrast enhancement of vertebral bodies and paravertebral soft tissues was uncommon. Intramedullary spinal cord intensity was noted at 10 of 27 sites on T2-weighted sequences. Static spinal cord compression occurred in 17 of 23 dogs, and a significant direct correlation was found between the percentage of spinal cord compression and the patient neurologic score.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that diskospondylitis in dogs has a characteristic MRI appearance, and in some patients, MRI may aid in the identification of severe spinal cord compression, which could warrant surgical intervention.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Harris’ present address is South Texas Veterinary Specialists, 503 Sonterra Blvd, Ste 102, San Antonio, TX 78209.

Address correspondence to Dr. Harris (jharris@vetmed.wsu.edu).