Magnetic resonance imaging features of leukoaraiosis in elderly dogs

Scarpante E, Cherubini GB, de Stefani A, et al.

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2017;58:389-398.

Leukoaraiosis is a descriptive term used to designate bilateral, symmetrical, white matter lesions identified in brains of elderly human patients. These lesions are isointense to normal in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) T1-weighted pulse sequences, non-contrast enhancing, and hyperintense in T2-weighted and FLAIR pulse sequences. Pathophysiologic mechanisms for leukoaraiosis remain incompletely understood; however, an ischemic origin is currently being favored. Age-related changes, such as brain atrophy, ventricular enlargement, and well-demarcated sulci, have also been previously described in dogs over 9 years of age. Objectives of this retrospective case series study were to describe MRI features of leukoaraiosis and brain atrophy in a group of elderly dogs. The Dick White Referrals MRI database between October 2009 and April 2016 was reviewed. Dogs with bilaterally symmetrical periventricular areas of T2 and FLAIR hyperintensity compatible with leukoaraiosis, and older than 9 years, were included. Fourteen dogs met the inclusion criteria, with a total of 18 MRI studies available for review. Median age for sampled dogs was 13 years. Ten dogs had MRI signs of concurrent brain atrophy; one of them had signs of brain atrophy before leukoaraiotic changes could be identified. In those cases where serial MRIs were available, progressive reduction of interthalamic adhesion thickness was observed. The current study introduces leukoaraiosis as a descriptive term for the MRI sign of bilaterally symmetrical, periventricular T2, and FLAIR hyperintensities in brains of elderly dogs. Future studies are needed to determine pathophysiologic mechanisms for this MRI sign.