VCA South Shore (Weymouth) Animal Hospital


Myelography is a contrast iodinated radiographic study used to highlight the spinal cord within the vertebral canal. In the preceding discussion it was noted that survey vertebral column radiographs do not allow visualization of the spinal cord or the meninges.
Myelography with the use of radiographs as described above allows visualization of the outline of the spinal cord.

The procedure is technical and should only be done by veterinarians experienced with the procedure. The procedure is carried out under anesthesia. A spinal needle is introduced into the spinal canal as for a spinal tap. For myelography of the entire spine usually lumbar puncture at L4-5 or L5-6 is performed (low back area). After sterile surgical preparation of the skin, the needle is inserted into the subarachnoid space. This space lies between the outer meninges (fibrous covering of the spinal cord) and the spinal cord itself. This space is filled with spinal fluid. The contrast agent is slowly and gently instilled with care until the entire spinal cord can be visualized into the high neck region.

Myelography for many years was the only way to further image the spinal cord. Although it does not allow for imaging the spinal cord itself, because the contrast agent surrounds and thus highlights the spinal cord, it can provide information on diseases causing compression from the outside the cord but within the canal (extra-dural), within the meninges (intra-dural, extramedullary) and also within the spinal cord (intramedullary).

Examples of extradural diseases include: intervertebral disc extrusion, tumors, cysts, infection, hemorrhage, compression from malformation, fracture or instability and other. Examples of intradural-extramedullary diseases include tumors or infection of the meninges/nerve roots, and cysts or dilations or adhesions of the meningeal elements. Intramedullary diseases include tumors of the spinal cord itself, ischemic stroke, hemorrhage, infection, inflammation, cavities (syrinx), traumatic high velocity intervertebral disc rupture and others.

Limitations of myelography are that it is an invasive procedure and requires a high level of expertise and experience. The images cannot be acquired in slices or multi-planar thus limiting the detail of the lesions imaged. Myelography does not image directly the spinal cord or lesion (focal disease abnormality) and thus further details may not be apparent. Although complications are rare they can occur and include chemical meningitis (rare with new agents), worsening of clinical signs (particularly in chronic or infectious/inflammatory diseases of the spinal cord or meninges (meningitis)), and seizures (brief for up to 12 hours but do not persist or become recurrent). Clinically significant direct trauma to the spinal cord, hemorrhage, or introduction of infection are rare complications. Absolute care should be taken to use the correct contrast agent. ONLY agents made to be used intrathecally should be used. Severe complications including death and paralysis can result due to use of other contrast agents.

Advantages are that myelography can be rapidly performed and requires only the same equipment as that for general radiography, except the correct contrast agent and spinal needle. For diseases such as intervertebral disc extrusion (rupture) it is very useful and is still used widely when such diseases are suspected.


Neurology, Surgery

General Practice

We have over 600 animal hospitals in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces that are staffed by more than 3,000 fully-qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 400 being board-certified specialists.

The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments such as wellness, spay/neuter, advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, boarding, and grooming. Services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately or come right in. We are available and have doctors and technicians in the building waiting to help you and your pet 24 hours a day.

As pet parents ourselves, we understand when there is a concern about your pet, waiting can be excruciating. That is why we are here for you 24 hours a day. There is no question, concern, or problem too small so don't hesitate to contact us or come right in!

*Please note that between the hours of 9pm and 7am, our front doors are locked for security. Please ring the door bell and a staff member will come to the door and assist you.