Possible for an MRI to miss a disc problem


Neuro Corner Answers

Dr. Andrew Isaacs
DVM Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)
Dogwood Veterinary Referral Center

Primary interests include intervertebral disc disease, seizure management, luxations/fractures of the spine, and surgery for brain tumors



Has there ever been a time when an MRI didn’t show a herniated disk yet when you did the surgery you found one?



An MRI is a good diagnostic tool. However, just like any diagnostic test it is not able to provide us with a diagnosis 100% of the time.  Image quality with MRI is subject to motion artifact and the size of the dog. Therefore, to obtain a good image the dog ideally should not be moving and be the size of a human. However, the fact that a dog is a dog and not human in conjunction with the fact that we want the dog alive (breathing and blood circulating) leads to artifact that sometimes makes interpretation of the image difficult. In circumstances where the MRI does not provide us with a diagnosis we will use a myelogram.  If we see a compressed spinal cord we will then perform surgery.


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