Possible for an MRI to miss a disc problem

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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


Question

LINDA ASKS:

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

 

ANSWER

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.


Disclaimer:

This information is presented for educational purposes and as a resource for the dog IVDD community. The coordinators are not veterinarians or health care professionals. Nothing herein should be interpreted as medical advice and all should contact their pet care professionals for advice. The coordinators are not responsible for the substance and content contained herein and do not advocate any particular product, item or position contained herein.

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