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Keywords:

  • dog;
  • empyema;
  • discospondylitis

Spinal epidural empyema is defined an accumulation of purulent material in the epidural space of the vertebral canal. Spinal epidural empyema should be considered as a differential diagnosis in dogs with pyrexia, spinal pain, and rapidly progressing myelopathy. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is the imaging test of choice in humans. Here, we describe the MR imaging features of five dogs with confirmed spinal epidural empyema. The epidural lesions appeared as high or mixed signal masses in T2-weighted (T2W) images. Increased signal within the spinal cord gray matter at the site of the lesion was detected in T2W images in all dogs. Two patterns of enhancement were detected on postcontrast T1-weighted (T1W) images. Mild to moderate peripheral enhancement was seen in three dogs and a diffuse pattern of enhancement was seen in one. Discospondylitis was identified in three dogs on T1W postcontrast images. Decompressive spinal surgery was performed in all dogs. Bacteria isolated from the abnormal epidural tissue were Enterobacter cloacae, coagulase-positive Staphylococci, Pasteurella multocida, and Escherichia coli. In one dog bacteria were not isolated. These MR imaging features, along with appropriate clinical signs, can allow prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment planning.