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Summary

The cervical spines of 6 horses with cervical stenotic myelopathy (CSM) were examined using myelography and contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT). Histopathology of the spinal cord of these horses identified 10 neurologically significant compressive lesions. Myelography and CECT were both able to demonstrate all 10 spinal cord compressive lesions, but myelography falsely identified 2 sites and CECT falsely identified 1 site as compressive lesions of the spinal cord which were not supported by histopathology. Additional qualitative information was obtained by CECT regarding the source, severity and location of spinal cord compression. Computed tomography identified stenosis of the vertebral canal with circumferential loss of contrast agent and documented lateral compressive lesions of the spinal cord due to malformed articular facets. Compression of the peripheral nerve roots by malformed articular facets encroaching on the intervertebral foramen was easily identified by CECT in the axial plane. No compressive lesions were identified in 3 unaffected horses by either method. Minimum sagittal diameter (MSD) values obtained from CECT images were strongly correlated with necropsy measurements, validating CECT as an accurate method of obtaining MSD values. The MSD values in the CSM-affected horses were significantly narrowed (P<0.05) from C3C6 regardless of the site of spinal cord compression, when compared with the unaffected controls. This finding supports previous reports suggesting that generalised stenosis of the vertebral canal is an important feature in the pathogenesis of cervical stenotic myelopathy.