Magnetic resonance imaging of the presumed normal canine adrenal glands

Llabres-Diaz FJ, Dennis R. 

Vet Radiol Ultrasound 2003;44:5-19.

Forty-three dogs without evidence of endocrine disease that underwent spinal or abdominal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for clinical reasons were studied. Because the procedures were not optimized for inclusion of the adrenal glands, they were not always visible in all planes. Eighty-five of the 86 adrenal glands were seen and only the left gland in a 6-month-old Irish wolfhound could not be found. The right adrenal gland lay cranial to the left in all of the animals in which both glands were seen. The best landmarks for localization of the glands were vascular; both adrenal glands were always cranial to the ipsilateral renal vessels and in the region of the celiac and cranial mesenteric arteries. Various measurements were made on all the available scan planes. In some dogs the whole adrenal gland was difficult to visualize clearly, and this hindered the measuring process, especially when the right adrenal gland was in close contact with the caudal vena cava. The adrenal glands were mainly linear in shape but also had a variable degree of modification of their poles, especially the cranial pole of the right adrenal gland, which tended to be consistently wider and to present different shapes (rounded, arrowhead, inverted P, hook-shaped, triangular, or dome-shaped). Two main patterns of signal intensity were seen on fast spin echo (FSE) sequences (T2-weighted, T1-weighted, and T1-weighted after administration of a paramagnetic contrast medium): homogeneous and hypointense to surroundings or a corticomedullary type pattern with a hyperintense central area surrounded by a hypointense rim of tissue. The outline of the left adrenal gland was always very clear. The clarity of outline of the right adrenal gland was more variable, especially if it was in contact with the liver or the caudal vena cava. It was felt that the amount of retroperitoneal fat was not as important as stated in the human literature for visualization of the adrenal glands and that with an appropriate selection of scan planes and pulse sequences good assessment of the adrenal glands can be performed with MRI in canine patients.