Study design: This study is an experimental investigation on the gadolinium contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in distinguishing sequestered disc fragment versus scar in dogs. The conspicousness of the disc fragment and signal intensities of the disc fragment and laminectomy scar were evaluated using gadolinium-enhanced MRI and histology.
Objectives: This study investigated the effects of timing of gadolinium injections, gadolinium doses, and aging of scar or disc on the enhancement characteristics and conspicuousness of disc fragment in MRI.
Summary of background data: Contrast-enhanced MRI has been frequently used as a procedure to evaluate patients with suspected recurrent herniated discs. In contrast-enhanced MRI, the postoperative scar tissue enhances to a greater extent than disc fragments. Previous reports suggest different contrast enhancement characteristics of scar depending on doses, timing of gadolinium, or maturity of scar. There are different compounds of gadolinium agents and different doses are becoming available. There is no previous report on the evaluation of gadolinium enhancement characteristics in dogs with concurrent herniated disc and scar.
Methods: Six conditioned Beagle dogs underwent hemilaminectomies and discectomies at the L3-L4 level. An autogenous disc fragment was obtained from the intervertebral disc of the tail. This disc fragment was placed anterolateral to the thecal sac, simulating a sequestered disc herniation. Three control animals underwent hemilaminectomies and discectomies alone. Each dog underwent MRI on a 1.5 Tesla scanner (3.0 mm slice in sagittal and axial projections with TR 500, TE 30 msec and high dose 0.3 mmol/kg of gadoteridol). Images were obtained at 15 days, 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days after surgery. At each imaging session, contrast enhancement was measured at 2 minutes, 25 minutes, and 45 minutes after gadolinium injection for kinematic analysis. Two animals at a time were killed on 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days postoperatively. Magnetic resonance imaging was done with conventional low dose 0.1 mmol/kg of gadopentetate at 15 days and before death.
Results: Results revealed that the difference of enhancement between disc and the scar and therefore conspicuousness of disc fragment was greater on 2-23-minute images as compared with 45- minute images, and the distinction decreased with aging of the scar. The high dose contrast-enhanced MRI increased signal intensities for both disc and scar. Conspicuousness of disc fragment seemed to be better with the high-dose gadolinium compound.
Conclusions: In conclusion, contrast enhancement characteristics in MRI may depend on the timing of MRI after gadolinium injection, doses of gadolinium, and aging of scar or disc.