OBJECTIVE To estimate reliability of interpretation of neurologic examination findings for localization of vestibular dysfunction in dogs.
DESIGN Cross-sectional study.
ANIMALS 496 dogs that underwent MRI of the head for diagnosis of a neurologic problem between September 2011 and September 2015.
PROCEDURES Medical records were reviewed and data collected regarding signalment and neurologic examination, MRI, and CSF findings. Independent observers interpreted the findings, and agreement was assessed for a subset of dogs. Distributions of variables were compared between dogs with and without a neurologic findings–based interpretation of vestibular disease.
RESULTS 37% (185/496) of dogs had signs of vestibular dysfunction, of which 82% (151/185) had MRI abnormalities. In 73% (110/151) of dogs with MRI abnormalities, lesions involved central vestibular structures, and in 19% (29/151), lesions involved peripheral vestibular structures. On the basis of neurologic findings interpretation, 86% (160/185) of dogs were classified as having central vestibular dysfunction, and 61% (98/160) of these had an MRI-identified central vestibular lesion. Agreement among 3 independent observers was good (κ = 0.72) regarding use of neurologic examination findings to diagnose central versus peripheral vestibular dysfunction and very good (κ = 0.85) regarding use of MRI to diagnose peripheral vestibular lesions. Despite this agreement, only 29% (7/24) of dogs with a consensus clinical interpretation of peripheral vestibular dysfunction had MRI-identified peripheral lesions.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Although interobserver agreement was good for distinguishing central from peripheral vestibular dysfunction in dogs through interpretation of neurologic examination findings, this interpretation did not agree with the MRI-based diagnosis.