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Papers of the Week

2020 Apr 24

Vet Radiol Ultrasound

Comparison of high-field MRI and multidetector CT for grading Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.


Weber SM, Hostnik ET, Drost W T, Hamlin AN, Ledesma MA, Timperman L, Hechler AC, Cole LK
Vet Radiol Ultrasound. 2020 Apr 24.
PMID: 32329949.


Chiari-like malformation (CM) and syringomyelia (SM) are common illnesses that can cause debilitating neuropathic pain in Cavalier King Charles spaniels (CKCS). The current imaging modality to screen CKCS for CM/SM is MRI of the brain and cervical spine. Magnetic resonance imaging provides good soft tissue detail and contrast of the cerebellum and cervical spinal cord. Computed tomography (CT) is another cross-sectional imaging technique that facilitates brain and neck evaluation; however, soft tissue resolution does not match that of MRI. Computed tomography benefits include identification of concurrent craniocervical junction anomalies (atlantooccipital overlap) and shorter imaging/anesthesia times with the ability to use only sedation. The aim of this retrospective, method comparison study is to assess the utility of multidetector CT for screening CM and SM in CKCS as compared to high-field MRI. Three groups of observers with different levels of experience graded CM and SM based on the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club CM/SM classification criteria. Thirty CKCS underwent multidetector CT and 3 Tesla MRI studies. Computed tomography and MRI studies were reviewed at different timepoints to minimize bias. Computed tomography has lower Cohen's Kappa agreement for each observer group compared to MRI. The intraclass correlation coefficient averaging CM and SM for all groups was excellent using MRI, while CT was poor for SM and moderate for cerebellar herniation. Greater observer experience resulted in a higher agreement for CT and MRI. Magnetic resonance imaging should remain the standard for screening of CM and SM as CT can result in misclassification and greater disagreement.