JACOB J. ROHLEDER, JERYL C. JONES, ROBERT B. DUNCAN, et al.
The purpose of this study was to compare computed tomography (CT) and radiography for diagnosing the presence and severity of middle ear disease in dogs with a history of chronic otitis externa. Thirty-one dogs undergoing a total ear canal ablation and bulla osteotomy were studied. Three normal dogs served as controls. All dogs were examined using radiography and CT. Three radiologists independently evaluated imaging studies in random order. A visual analog scale method was used for scoring certainty and severity of middle ear disease. Surgical findings were recorded intra-operatively. Bulla lining samples were submitted for histopathologic evaluation and scored by a single pathologist who also used a visual analog scale system. Findings from both imaging modalities agreed more closely with surgical findings than with histopathologic findings. With either surgical or histopathologic findings as the gold standard, CT was more sensitive than and as specific as radiographs for predicting presence and severity of middle ear disease. Observer performance with CT was more consistent than the performance with radiographs in the detection of changes that occur with middle ear disease. Both radiography and CT were more accurate for predicting the severity of the disease than its presence. Findings indicate that CT is more accurate and reliable than radiography in diagnosing middle ear disease for dogs having concurrent otitis externa, but only when severity of disease is moderate or high. With low severity of disease, diagnostic certainty for both modalities becomes more variable.