Magnetic resonance imaging features of equine nigropallidal encephalomalacia

Sanders SG, Tucker RL, Bagley RS, et al.

Vet Radiol Ultrasound 2001;42:291-296.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MR) was used to make a diagnosis of equine nigropallidal encephalomalacia in a horse. Equine nigropallidal encephalomalacia is a neurodegenerative disease that has many characteristics with Parkinson-like diseases in humans. Historically, horses were euthanized based on clinical signs and exposure to the toxic weed, yellow star thistle (Centaurea solstitialis). Previously, the disease has only been confirmed on necropsy. MR imaging can provide accurate and sensitive visualization of typical lesions seen in the brain of horses affected with equine nigropallidal encephalomalacia. Lesions were seen on T1-weighted, T2-weighted and proton density images. There was no contrast enhancement following Gd-DTPA administration. Lesions seen on MR were confirmed at necropsy. Using MR to confirm a diagnosis of equine nigropallidal encephalomalacia will prevent unnecessary suffering of horses and expense to owners that would otherwise incur, while further diagnostics are performed.