Article

Magnetic resonance imaging features of dogs with incomplete recovery after acute, severe spinal cord injury

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Abstract

Study design

Retrospective case series.

Objectives

Describe the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) features of dogs chronically impaired after severe spinal cord injury (SCI) and investigate associations between imaging variables and residual motor function.

Setting

United States of America.

Methods

Thoracolumbar MRI from dogs with incomplete recovery months to years after clinically complete (paralysis with loss of pain perception) thoracolumbar SCI were reviewed. Lesion features were described and quantified. Gait was quantified using an ordinal, open field scale (OFS). Associations between imaging features and gait scores, duration of injury (DOI), or SCI treatment were determined.

Results

Thirty-five dogs were included. Median OFS was 2 (0–6), median DOI was 13 months (3–83), and intervertebral disk herniation was the most common diagnosis (n = 27). Myelomalacia was the most common qualitative feature followed by cystic change; syringomyelia and fibrosis were uncommon. Lesion length corrected to L2 length (LL:L2) was variable (median LL:L2 = 3.5 (1.34–11.54)). Twenty-nine dogs had 100% maximum cross-sectional spinal cord compromise (MSCC) at the lesion epicenter and the length of 100% compromised area varied widely (median length 100% MSCC:L2 = 1.29 (0.39–7.64)). Length 100% MSCC:L2 was associated with OFS (p = 0.012). OFS was not associated with any qualitative features. DOI or treatment type were not associated with imaging features or lesion quantification.

Conclusions

Lesion characteristics on MRI in dogs with incomplete recovery after severe SCI were established. Length of 100% MSCC was associated with hind limb motor function. Findings demonstrate a spectrum of injury severity on MRI among severely affected dogs, which is related to functional status.

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Acknowledgements

T32 OD011130—Comparative Medicine and Translational Research Training Program and the Morris Animal Foundation grant 10CA-04O.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA

    • Melissa J. Lewis
    •  & Natasha J. Olby
  2. Comparative Medicine Institute, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA

    • Melissa J. Lewis
    •  & Natasha J. Olby
  3. Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA

    • Eli B. Cohen

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Natasha J. Olby.

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