Owl's eye sign

The owl's eye sign represents bilaterally symmetric circular to ovoid foci of high T2-weighted signals in the anterior horn cells of the spinal cord and is seen on axial MR imaging. The sagittal corollary is a "pencil-like" vertical linear high T2-weighted signal extending usually over a number of segments.

Although typically described as one of the patterns in spinal cord infarction affecting the anterior spinal artery 1,2, it is seen in multiple other clinical settings, and represents the result of increased metabolic activity (thus vulnerability) and reduced collateral supply of the anterior horns of the spinal cord. An owl's eye pattern is seen in the following scenarios: 

Share article

Article information

rID: 44588
Section: Signs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Owl's eyes sign

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Figure 1
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 1: ischaemia
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 2: anterior horn syndrome
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.
    Loadinganimation

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.