Dirrig H, Lamb CR.
Ante mortem diagnosis of canine meningoencephalitis is usually based on the results of neurologic examination, cerebrospinal fluid analysis and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. It has been hypothesized that subtraction MR imaging may increase the sensitivity of MR for intracranial inflammatory lesions compared to conventional post-gadolinium T1-weighted imaging. Sensitivity of pre- and post-gadolinium (C-/C+) image pairs and dynamic subtraction (DS) images was compared in a retrospective diagnostic accuracy study of 52 dogs with inflammatory cerebrospinal fluid and 67 dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. Series of transverse C-/C+ and DS images were reviewed independently for signs of abnormal enhancement affecting the pachymeninges, leptomeninges or intra-axial structures. Sensitivity of C-/C+ image pairs and DS images was 48% (95% CI: 35–61%) and 65% (95% CI: 52–77%), respectively (P = 0.01). Intra-axial lesions were observed more frequently than meningeal lesions in both C-/C+ (43% vs. 31%) and DS images (61% vs. 22%). The difference in sensitivities of C-/C+ and DS series was entirely due to increased sensitivity of DS images for intra-axial lesions. Eight (12%) dogs with epilepsy had evidence of intra-axial gadolinium accumulation affecting the cerebral cortex in DS images. This finding may represent a false-positive result or a true sign of pathology, possibly associated with a leaky blood–brain barrier in areas of the brain affected by neovascularization secondary to repeated seizures. Results suggest that DS imaging has higher sensitivity than comparison of pre- and post-gadolinium image pairs for inflammatory intra-axial lesions.