MR imaging of acute spinal cord injury: results of an experimental study in dogs.
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A weight-drop model was used to induce 16 acute lesions of varying severity in the spinal cords of eight mongrel dogs. The subsequent 3- to 7-hr postinjury MR images (0.5 T) were assessed. T1-weighted images contributed little information. Injection of gadolinium tetra-azacyclododecane tetraacetic acid did not result in significant enhancement. T2-weighted sequences offered precise detection and delineation of the lesions, displaying fusiform hyperintense signal abnormalities that corresponded to both edema and hemorrhage. In low-impact injuries, abnormalities were small and centrally located, sparing the periphery of the spinal cord. In these cases hemorrhage was minimal and limited to the center of the lesion. In severe-impact injuries, MR showed widespread longitudinal extension with involvement of the periphery of the spinal cord. In the most severe injuries, a central heterogeneous signal component was frequently observed opposite the site of impact because of important hemorrhage within the cord. Overall, hyperintense areas correlated closely with lesion severity, as demonstrated by pathologic findings. T2-weighted MR images obtained at 0.5 T were found to be reliable in the evaluation of acute spinal cord trauma.
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