Imaging features of discospondylitis in cats

Sergio A Gomes, Sebastien Behr, Laurent S Garosi, Ines Carrera, Mike Targett, Mark Lowrie
Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 2019 August 16, : 1098612X19869705

OBJECTIVES: This study describes the imaging features of feline discospondylitis on MRI, comparing them to CT and radiographic findings where available.

METHODS: The medical records of cats diagnosed with discospondylitis, presented to three referring institutions, were reviewed. MRI, CT and radiographic features were assessed by two of the authors independently.

RESULTS: Fourteen sites of discospondylitis were retrospectively identified in 13 cats. The L7-S1 intervertebral disc space (IVDS) was affected in 7/14 (50%) cases. Characteristic MRI features included a hyperintense nucleus pulposus signal on T2-weighted (T2W) imaging (n = 10/14 [71%]) and short tau inversion recovery (STIR) imaging (n = 11/13 [85%]), with contrast enhancement in all (n = 11/11); involvement of adjacent vertebral endplates (n = 11/14 [79%]) and hyperintense neighbouring soft tissue on T2W (n = 11/14 [79%]) and STIR (n = 10/13 [77%]), with contrast enhancement in all (n = 11/11); and the presence of spondylosis deformans (n = 10/14 [71%]). Other features included narrowed or collapsed IVDS (n = 8/14 [57%]), contrast enhancement of vertebral bodies (n = 5/11 [46%]), epidural space involvement (n = 5/14 [36%]), compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots (n = 5/14 [36%]), paraspinal abscessation (n = 3/14 [21%]) and meningeal signal intensity abnormalities with contrast enhancement (n = 5/6 [83%]). These latter findings may indicate secondary focal meningitis. Radiographs were available covering five sites (in four cats) and CT covering three sites (in two cats). The most common radiological features were collapse or narrowing of the affected IVDS (80%) and endplate erosion (60%). No changes suggestive of discospondylitis were identifiable on radiography or CT in two sites (one cat), despite being identifiable on MRI. Repeated radiography in one case did not reveal complete radiological resolution following 9 months of treatment.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The results of this study indicate consistent MRI features of feline discospondylitis that should be considered in the diagnosis of this condition.


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