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  • Author or Editor: Ragnvi Hagman x
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Objective—To assess whether the Pfirrmann system for grading lumbar intervertebral disk (IVD) degeneration in humans can also be used in dogs.

Animals—202 dogs.

Procedures—Magnetic resonance imaging was used to obtain images of vertebral segments from dogs, which were reviewed separately by 3 observers who graded the extent of degeneration in each visible IVD by use of the Pfirrmann classification system used for grading lumbar IVD degeneration in humans. Grading was validated against 2 factors associated with the extent of disk degeneration: type of dog (chondrodystrophic or nonchondrodystrophic breeds) and age.

Results—Interobserver and intraobserver agreement for Pfirrmann grading of IVD degeneration were good (κ scores, 0.81 to 0.93). An increase in the extent of disk degeneration was positively correlated with increases in age and with chondrodystrophic breed.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The Pfirrmann system was reliably used to grade IVD degeneration in dogs of various breeds and ages. An increase in the extent of IVD degeneration was positively correlated with increases in age and with chondrodystrophic-type dogs.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To evaluate the reliability of the Thompson system for use in grading the gross pathological changes of intervertebral disk (IVD) degeneration in dogs and to investigate the agreement between gross pathological findings and low-field (0.2-T) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings.

Sample—Vertebral columns from cadavers of 19 dogs of various ages, breeds, and origins.

Procedures—182 intervertebral segments were collected from 19 canine cadavers. Sagittal T2-weighted MRI of the T11 through S1 portion of the vertebral column was performed within 24 hours after the dogs were euthanized. The vertebral columns were subsequently divided in the midsagittal plane, and high-resolution photographs were obtained of each intervertebral segment (end plate—disk—end plate). The MRI images and photographs were graded separately in a blinded manner by 4 observers who used both Pfirrmann and Thompson grading criteria.

Results—The interobserver agreement for Thompson scores ranged from 0.76 to 0.88, and the intraobserver agreement ranged from 0.88 to 0.94 (Cohen weighted κ analysis). Agreement between scores for the Pfirrmann and Thompson grading criteria was κ = 0.70.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Grading of IVD degeneration in dogs by use of the Thompson system resulted in high interobserver and intraobserver agreement, and scores for the Thompson system had substantial agreement with low-field MRI findings graded by use of the Pfirrmann system. This suggested that low-field MRI can be used to diagnose IVD degeneration in dogs.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research