December 19, 2016

MRI Features of Cervical Articular Process Degenerative Joint Disease in Great DaneDogs with Cervical Spondylomyelopathy

Cervical spondylomyelopathy or Wobbler syndrome makes it difficult for the brain to send and receive signals to the rest of the body. The original cause is unknown but all cases present with chronic spinal cord compression. This typically either occurs from the spinal cord degenerating or from the spinal cord mineralizing. The easiest way to diagnose Wobbler syndrome is with an MRI. MRIs can observe the degeneration of articular process joints of the vertebrae. This study’s goals were to describe the changes of the articular process joints visible on an MRI machine and to determine the correlation between that degeneration and spinal cord compressions or abnormalities. 
Records spanning from January 2007 to April 2011 were studied for examples of Great Danes with Wobbler syndrome with MRI images. 13 dogs with a mean age of 3.7 were identified. There were 6 males and 7 females. 12 dogs presented with motor difficulties and the remaining dog had neck pain. MRI images were studied on the basis of synovial fluid, regularity of the articular surface, and the degree of enlarged tissues along the sides and back. 
The most frequent abnormality was the loss of synovial fluid, found in 86% of articular process joints. 80% of articular process joints showed loss of regularity of the articular surfaces. Hypertrophy of tissues along the back was found in 53% of articular process joints, and hypertrophy along the sides was present in 38% of articular process joints.
In this study, it was found that 86.2% of the articular process joints underwent degeneration. There was also a high frequency in lateral spinal cord compression. This may suggest that articular process joint degeneration is linked to spinal cord compression in Great Danes with cervical spondylomyelopathy. Unfortunately it was not possible to assess all cervical articular process joints in all dogs, as the researchers did not take the MRIs themselves and most of the MRIs only included images along the transverse plane.
Reviewed by Jason Hammerman.
Original article:
Gutierrez-Quintana, R. and Penderis, J. (2012), MRI FEATURES OF CERVICAL ARTICULAR PROCESS DEGENERATIVE JOINT DISEASE IN GREAT DANE DOGS WITH CERVICAL SPONDYLOMYELOPATHY. Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound, 53: 304–311. doi:10.1111/j.1740-8261.2011.01912.x