01160-A: Development of Contract-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Angiography for the Diagnosis of Congenital Vascular Liver Disease in Dogs

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $12,679
Wilfried Mai, DVM PhD; University of Pennsylvania
May 1, 2008 - April 30, 2010


Breed(s): Australian Cattle Dog, Maltese, Havanese, Irish Wolfhound, Labrador Retriever, Pug, Yorkshire Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Golden Retriever
Research Program Area: Hepatic Disease
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Project Summary

The proposed research of utilizing contrast-enhanced portal magnetic resonance angiography (CE-MRA) in dogs to diagnose congenital liver vascular diseases was applied to 17 dogs as planned. In all of them, the technique was easily and successfully performed, and yielded good to excellent quality images in less than 4 minutes total imaging time, which is much shorter than the current method used (single-slice helical computed tomography angiography). This in turns shortens total anesthesia time for diagnostic imaging in comparison with computed tomography. CE-MRA provided diagnostic information in all 17 dogs, with excellent contrast and anatomic detail. No complications were observed. The three-dimensional images obtained are easily understood by the surgeons in charge of the patients. In all 14 animals that underwent treatment through coil embolization or surgery to close-off the anomalous vessel(s), the anomalies seen on CE-MRA were confirmed. Two of the 17 dogs have not yet undergone this procedure. The method is very accurate in terms of anatomic depiction of the vascular abnormalities. 13 dogs were diagnosed with intra-hepatic congenital porto-caval shunts, two with an extrahepatic shunt and one with a rare form of intra-hepatic arterio-venous fistula. One dog did not have a macroscopic anomalous vessel identified, consistent with hepatic microvascular dysplasia. The preliminary results were presented at the Annual Conference of the American College of Veterinary Radiology, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Conference and the European Association of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging British/Irish Division Conference, where they impressed the audience because of the ease and simplicity of the method, its non-invasive nature and the high-quality and diagnostic value of the images obtained. Two very small puppies were imaged and despite the challenges associated with imaging such small patients, the studies were diagnostic in both cases and anesthesia well tolerated with uneventful recovery. In two animals imaged, ultrasonography prior to the MRA by experienced radiologists failed to accurately describe the anatomy of the shunt or to confirm its presence.


Mai, W., & Weisse, C. (2011). Contrast-enhanced portal magnetic resonance angiography in dogs with suspected congenital portal vascular anomalies. Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound, 52(3), 284–288. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-8261.2010.01771.x

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