Early CT in dogs following traumatic brain injury has limited value in predicting short-term prognosis

Vet Radiol Ultrasound. 2021 Mar;62(2):181-189. doi: 10.1111/vru.12933. Epub 2020 Nov 26.


Traumatic brain injury is associated with a high risk of mortality in veterinary patients, however publications describing valid prognostic indicators are currently lacking. The objective of this retrospective observational study was to determine whether early CT findings are associated with short-term prognosis following traumatic brain injury (TBI) in dogs. An electronic database was searched for dogs with TBI that underwent CT within 72 h of injury; 40 dogs met the inclusion criteria. CT findings were graded based on a Modified Advanced Imaging System (MAIS) from grade I (normal brain parenchyma) to VI (bilateral lesions affecting the brainstem with or without any foregoing lesions of lesser grades). Other imaging features recorded included presence of midline shift, intracranial hemorrhage, brain herniation, skull fractures, and percentage of total brain parenchyma affected. Outcome measures included survival to discharge and occurrence of immediate onset posttraumatic seizures. Thirty dogs (75%) survived to discharge. Seven dogs (17.5%) suffered posttraumatic seizures. There was no association between survival to discharge and posttraumatic seizures. No imaging features evaluated were associated with the study outcome measures. Therefore, the current study failed to identify any early CT imaging features with prognostic significance in canine TBI patients. Limitations associated with CT may preclude its use for prognostication; however, modifications to the current MAIS and evaluation in a larger study population may yield more useful results. Despite this, CT is a valuable tool in the detection of structural abnormalities following TBI in dogs that warrants further investigation.

Keywords: MRI; Modified Glasgow Coma Scale; canine; head trauma.

Publication types

  • Observational Study, Veterinary

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / complications
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / mortality
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Dog Diseases / pathology
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale / veterinary
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / veterinary
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / veterinary*