BACKGROUND : During skull ontogenesis, growth centers in the skull base and calvarial bones allow gradual
expansion of the cranial vault. Premature growth termination of cranial base synchondroses and/or calvarial
sutures can result in devastating skull dysmorphologies. There is evidence to believe that a premature closure
in one or more cranial growth centers contribute to the brachycephalic skull morphology in dogs. To provide
a proof of concept for the non-invasive investigation of ontogenetic changes in cranial sutures and synchondroses in
living dogs, we compared magnet resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) with histologic findings.
Our aim was to determine the in vitro sensitivity and specificity for conventional clinical imaging methods in
the assessment of cranial suture closure and synchondroses ossification in dogs.
RESULTS : The evaluation of cranial base synchondroses in MRI had a sensitivity of up to 93.1% and a specificity of 72.7%
dependent on the observer. The evaluation of cranial base synchondroses in CT had a sensitivity of 92.2%
and a specificity of 86.4%. Suture assessment on MRI suture assessment had a sensitivity of 82.1% dependent
on the observer and a specificity of 19.3%. CT suture assessment had a sensitivity of 85.1% and a specificity
of 40.4% in dependence of the observer.
CONCLUSION : Conventional cross-sectional imaging techniques (MRI and CT) allow reliable assessment of the
open or closed state of synchondroses within the cranial base. In contrast CT and MRI are not suitable for a
reliable assessment of the cranial sutures in dogs.