Putative Cerebral Microbleeds in Dogs Undergoing Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Head: A Retrospective Study of Demographics, Clinical Associations, and Relationship to Case Outcome.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) are focal intraparenchymal signal voids on gradient-echo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), corresponding to regions of chronic hemorrhage. In humans, they are associated with systemic disease and shorter survival times. Although similar findings have been identified in dogs, their epidemiology and clinical correlations have not been investigated.

OBJECTIVE

To determine epidemiological features, clinical associations, and associations with outcome for putative CMB-like foci (putative microbleeds [pMBs]) identified by T2*-weighted MRI in dogs.

ANIMALS

Five hundred and eighty-two dogs undergoing 3T brain MRI between 2011 and 2016.

METHODS

Retrospective case-control study. Demographic, diagnostic, and clinicopathological data were obtained from medical records and phone follow-up. Demographic variables were compared between dogs with and without evidence of pMBs. For dogs with such evidence, and a subset of matched controls, associations with clinical presentation, concurrent disease, and survival times were evaluated.

RESULTS

Dogs with pMBs were older (P < .001) and smaller (P = .004) than unaffected dogs. Compared to matched controls, they presented more frequently for vestibular signs (P = .030). Cortical atrophy occurred concurrently with pMBs in 26% (14/54) of dogs. Diagnosed renal disease was not significantly associated with pMBs, but proteinuria was more common in dogs with pMBs than in matched controls (odds ratio = 3.01, P = .005). Dogs with pMBs had a shorter median survival time than did matched controls (P = .011).

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE

Putative microbleeds occurred in 54 of 582 (9.3%) of dogs undergoing brain MRI, but may not be a normal consequence of aging. They were associated with shorter survival time and proteinuria in the study population.

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