Magnetic resonance imaging features of discospondylitis in dogs

Vet Radiol Ultrasound. 2011 Mar-Apr;52(2):125-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8261.2010.01756.x. Epub 2010 Dec 28.


The diagnosis of discospondylitis is based mainly on diagnostic imaging and laboratory results. Herein, we describe the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in 13 dogs with confirmed discospondylitis. In total there were 17 sites of discospondylitis. Eleven (81.1%) of the dogs had spinal pain for >3 weeks and a variable degree of neurologic signs. Two dogs had spinal pain and ataxia for 4 days. Radiographs were available in nine of the dogs. In MR images there was always involvement of two adjacent vertebral endplates and the associated disk. The involved endplates and adjacent marrow were T1-hypointense with hyperintensity in short tau inversion recovery (STIR) images in all dogs, and all dogs also had contrast enhancement of endplates and paravertebral tissues. The intervertebral disks were hyperintense in T2W and STIR images and characterized by contrast enhancement in 15 sites (88.2%). Endplate erosion was present in 15 sites (88.2%) and was associated with T2-hypointense bone marrow adjacent to it. In two sites (11.8%) endplate erosion was not MR images or radiographically. The vertebral bone marrow in these sites was T2-hyperintense. Epidural extension was conspicuous in postcontrast images at 15 sites (88.2%). Spinal cord compression was present at 15 sites (88.2%), and all affected dogs had neurologic signs. Subluxation was present in two sites (11.8%). MRI shows characteristic features of discospondylitis, and it allows the recognition of the exact location and extension (to the epidural space and paravertebral soft tissues) of the infection. Furthermore, MRI increases lesion conspicuity in early discospondylitis that may not be visualized by radiography.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Discitis / diagnosis
  • Discitis / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Dogs
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology
  • Lumbosacral Region / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / veterinary*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / pathology