Main content area

Calcification of extruded intervertebral discs in dachshunds: a radiographic, computed tomographic and histopathological study of 25 cases

Stigen, Øyvind, Ciasca, Taizha, Kolbjørnsen, Øyvor
Acta veterinaria scandinavica 2019 v.61 no.1 pp. 13
Dachshund, breeding, breeding programs, calcification, computed tomography, dogs, extrusion, histology, histopathology, image analysis, intervertebral disks, prospective studies, radiography, Scandinavia
BACKGROUND: Three Nordic countries have national breeding programs to reduce the frequency of intervertebral disc disease in dachshunds. The programs include a radiographic examination of the vertebral column and dachshunds with more than four calcified discs visible on radiographs (CDVR) are discouraged from use in breeding. However, disc extrusion is also diagnosed in dachshunds without CDVR. The utility of the breeding programs is therefore questioned. RESULTS: A prospective study of 25 dachshunds surgically treated for disc extrusion was conducted. For all the dogs, preoperative radiographs were evaluated for detectable disc calcifications and preoperative computed tomography (CT) scans were evaluated for presence of calcified material in the vertebral canal. Postoperatively, extruded disc material was examined for degeneration and calcification by histology. Diagnostic imaging and histology were done independently. Radiographically visible calcification was identified in 17 (68.0%) of 25 extruded discs. Calcification was seen in the disc space for all these 17 discs, and for eight of the 17, there was also calcified material visible in the vertebral canal. Extruded material from all the 25 discs was found to be calcified, both by CT and histopathology. CONCLUSIONS: In dachshunds with acute disc extrusion, radiographically visible calcification will frequently be found in the affected disc space, but not all affected disc spaces contain radiographically visible calcification. Using histopathology as the gold standard, a sensitivity of 0.3 (8/25) for radiography and 1.0 (25/25) for CT was found for detecting calcified disc material in the vertebral canal. Further, a sensitivity of 0.7 (17/25) was found for radiography for detecting remaining calcified material in the disc space. Thus, extruded disc material should be considered to be calcified, even in the absence of radiographically visible calcification.