Material in the middle ear of dogs having magnetic resonance imaging for investigation of neurologic signs

Owen MC, Lamb CR, Lu D, et al.

Vet Radiol Ultrasound 2004;45:149-155.

The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and potential significance of finding material in the middle ear of dogs having magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Of 466 MR studies reviewed, an increased signal was identified in the tympanic bulla in 32 (7%) dogs. Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Cocker spaniels, Bulldogs, and Boxers were over-represented compared to the population of dogs having MR imaging. Five (16%) dogs had definite otitis media and one (3%) had a meningioma invading the middle ear. Of the remaining dogs, 13 (41%) had possible otitis media and 13 (41%) had neurologic conditions apparently unrelated to otitis media. The most common appearance of material in the middle ear was isointense in T1-weighted images and hyperintense in T2-weighted images. There was no apparent correlation between the signal characteristics of the material and the diagnosis. Enhanced signal after gadolinium administration was observed affecting the lining of the bulla in dogs with otitis media and in dogs with unrelated neurologic conditions. In dogs without clinical signs of otitis media, finding an increased signal in the middle ear during MR imaging may reflect subclinical otitis media or fluid accumulation unrelated to inflammation. Brachycephalic dogs may be predisposed to this condition.