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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Diagnostic accuracy of a short-duration 3 Tesla magnetic resonance protocol for diagnosing stifle joint lesions in dogs with non-traumatic cranial cruciate ligament rupture

Vladimir Galindo-Zamora12, Peter Dziallas1, Davina C Ludwig1, Ingo Nolte1* and Patrick Wefstaedt1

Author Affiliations

1 Small Animal Hospital, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation. Bünteweg 9, D-30559, Hannover, Germany

2 Small Animal Clinic, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, National University of Colombia, Carrera 30 # 45-03 (Ciudad Universitaria), Bogotá, Colombia

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BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:40  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-40

Published: 28 February 2013



Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is the preferred diagnostic tool to evaluate internal disorders of many joints in humans; however, the usefulness of MR imaging in the context of osteoarthritis, and joint disease in general, has yet to be characterized in veterinary medicine. The objective of this study was to assess the diagnostic accuracy of short-duration 3 Tesla MR imaging for the evaluation of cranial and caudal cruciate ligament, meniscal and cartilage damage, as well as the degree of osteoarthritis, in dogs affected by non-traumatic, naturally-occurring cranial cruciate ligament rupture (CCLR). Diagnoses made from MR images were compared to those made during surgical exploration. Twenty-one client-owned dogs were included in this study, and one experienced evaluator assessed all images.


All cranial cruciate ligaments were correctly identified as ruptured. With one exception, all caudal cruciate ligaments were correctly identified as intact. High sensitivities and specificities were obtained when diagnosing meniscal rupture. MR images revealed additional subclinical lesions in both the cranial and caudal cruciate ligaments and in the menisci. There was a “clear” statistical (kappa) agreement between the MR and the surgical findings for both cartilage damage and degree of osteoarthritis. However, the large 95% confidence intervals indicated that evaluation of cartilage damage and of degree of osteoarthritis is not clinically satisfactory.


The presence of cruciate ligament damage and meniscal tears could be accurately assessed using the MR images obtained with our protocol. However, in the case of meniscal evaluation, occasional misdiagnosis did occur. The presence of cartilage damage and the degree of osteoarthritis could not be properly evaluated.

Dog; Stifle; Cranial cruciate ligament; High-field MRI; Radiography