Comparison of two fat-suppressed magnetic resonance imaging pulse sequences to standard t2-weighted images for brain parenchymal contrast and lesion detection in dogs with inflammatory intracranial disease.
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T2-weighted (T2w) sequences are commonly relied upon in magnetic resonance imaging protocols for the detection of brain lesions in dogs. Previously, the effect of fluid suppression via fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) has been compared to T2-weighting with mixed results. Short tau inversion recovery (STIR) has been reported to increase the detection of some CNS lesions in people. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effect of fat suppression on brain parenchymal contrast resolution and lesion detection in dogs. We compared three sequences: T2w images, STIR, and T2w FLAIR with chemical fat suppression (T2-FLAIR-FS) in dogs with meningoencephalitis. Dogs with meningoencephalitis and dogs with idiopathic epilepsy were retrospectively identified and anonymized. Evaluators recorded the presence or absence of lesions within 12 predetermined brain regions on randomized sequences, viewing and scoring each sequence individually. Additionally, signal-to-noise ratios, contrast-to-noise ratios, and relative contrast (RC) were measured in a reference population. Short tau inversion recovery sequences had the highest RC between gray and white matter. While descriptively more lesions were identified by evaluators on T2-FLAIR-FS images, there was no statistical difference in the relative sensitivity of lesion detection between the sequences. Nor was there a statistical difference in false lesion detection within our reference population. Short tau inversion recovery may be favored for enhanced anatomic contrast depiction in brain imaging. No benefit of the inclusion of a fat-suppressed T2-FLAIR sequence was found.