Comparison of volume of the forebrain, subarachnoid space and lateral ventricles between dogs with idiopathic epilepsy and controls using a stereological approach : Cavalieri’s principle
Canine idiopathic epilepsy (IE) is the most common chronic neurological brain disease in dogs, yet it can only be diagnosed by exclusion of all other potential causes. In people, epilepsy has been associated with a reduction in brain volume. The objective was to estimate the volume of the forebrain (FB), subarachnoid space (SAS) and lateral ventricles (LV) in dogs with IE compared to controls using Cavalieri's principle. MRI scans of case and control dogs were identified from two neurology referral hospital databases. Eight breeds with increased odds of having IE were included: Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, Border terrier, German Shepherd dog, Parson Jack Russell terrier, Boxer, and Border Collie. Five dogs of each breed with IE and up to five controls were systematically and uniformly randomly sampled (SURS). The volume of the FB, SAS and LV were estimated from MRI scans by one blinded observer using Cavalieri's principle.
One hundred-two dogs were identified; 56 were diagnosed with IE and 46 were controls. There was no statistically significant difference in FB, SAS and LV volume between dogs with IE and controls. Dogs with a history of status epilepticus had significantly larger FB than those without (p = 0.05). There was a border-line trend for LV volume to increase with increasing length of seizure history in the IE group (p = 0.055).
The volumes of the FB, SAS and LV are not different between dogs with IE and controls, so IE remains a diagnosis of exclusion with no specific neuroanatomical biomarkers identified. This is the first time FB and SAS volume has been compared in dogs with IE. Unfortunately, we have shown that the results reporting significantly larger FBs in dogs with status epilepticus and LV volume increase with length of seizure history were likely confounded by breed and should be interpreted cautiously. Whilst these associations are interesting and clinically relevant, further investigation with breed-specific or larger, breed-diverse populations are required to permit strong conclusions. The Cavalieri principle provided an effective estimation of FB, SAS and LV volumes on MRI, but may be too time-intensive for use in clinical practice.