Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is commonly used to diagnose degenerative lumbosacral stenosis; however, studies show limited correlation between imaging and clinical signs. The purpose of this prospective observer agreement study was to use dynamic MRI of the lumbosacral (LS) spine of healthy dogs to determine reliable reference ranges. Twenty-two healthy large breed dogs were prospectively enrolled. MRI of the LS spine was performed in T2-weighted, T1-weighted, and T2-weighted SPACE sequences in neutral, flexed, and extended positions. Four observers performed image analyses. Measurements included LS angle, vertebral canal height and area, and LS foraminal areas. Ordinal categorical assessment of loss of fat signal in the foramina, LS compression, intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration, spondylosis, and IVD protrusion was also performed. The majority of values were significantly larger in flexion versus neutral position, and significantly smaller in extension versus neutral position (P <.05). Subclinical compression and IVD protrusion was noted in a neutral position in 45% and 55% of dogs and in an extended position in 85% and 73% of dogs, respectively. Interobserver agreement was strong (intracluster correlation coefficient [ICC] >.5) except for the L7:LS vertebral canal area ratio (ICC ≤.03). Intraobserver agreement was high (rho >.5) for all measurements except for the mid-L6:LS vertebral canal height ratio (rho =.38). There was poor interobserver agreement for loss of fat signal in the foramina and evidence of compression. This study provides the groundwork for future studies using dynamic MRI to evaluate dogs with signs of clinical LS disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-565
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Radiology and Ultrasound
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • canine
  • compression
  • foramina
  • stenosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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