Evaluation of magnetic resonance imaging for the differentiation of inflammatory, neoplastic, and vascular intradural spinal cord diseases in the dog

Masciarelli AE, Griffin JF, Fosgate GT, et al.

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2017;58:444-453.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common test for dogs with suspected intradural spinal cord lesions, however studies on diagnostic performance for this test are lacking. Objectives of this multi-institutional, retrospective, case-control study were to estimate sensitivity and specificity of MRI for (1) distinguishing between histopathologically confirmed intradural spinal cord disease versus degenerative myelopathy in dogs, (2) categorizing intradural spinal cord diseases as neoplastic, inflammatory, or vascular; and (3) determining tumor type within the etiologic category of neoplasia. Additional aims were to (1) determine whether knowledge of clinical data affects sensitivity and specificity of MRI diagnoses; and (2) report interrater agreement for MRI classification of intradural spinal lesions. Cases were recruited from participating hospital databases over a 7-year period. Three reviewers independently evaluated each MRI study prior to and after provision of clinical information. A total of 87 cases were sampled (17 degenerative myelopathy, 53 neoplasia, nine inflammatory, and eight vascular). Magnetic resonance imaging had excellent (>97.6%) sensitivity for diagnosis of intradural spinal cord lesions but specificity varied before and after provision of clinical data (68.6% vs. 82.4%, P = 0.023). Magnetic resonance imaging had good sensitivity (86.8%) and moderate specificity (64.7–72.5%) for diagnosing neoplasia. Sensitivity was lower for classifying inflammatory lesions but improved with provision of clinical data (48.1% vs. 81.5%, P = 0.015). Magnetic resonance imaging was insensitive for diagnosing vascular lesions (25.0%). Interrater agreement was very good for correctly diagnosing dogs with intradural lesions (ĸ = 0.882–0.833), and good (ĸ = 0.726–0.671) for diagnosing dogs with neoplasia.