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Cervical vertebral malformations in 9 dogs: radiological findings, treatment options and outcomes

Fernandes, Ricardo, Fitzpatrick, Noel, Rusbridge, Clare, Rose, Jeremy, Driver, Colin J.
Irish veterinary journal 2019 v.72 no.1 pp. 2
abnormal development, cervical spine, cervical spondylomyelopathy, dogs, hospitals, humans, patients, prospective studies, scoliosis, signs and symptoms (animals and humans), surgery, vertebrae, veterinary medicine
BACKGROUND: Disregarding atlantoaxial instability in toy breed dogs associated with dens malformation and cervical spondylomyelopathy; cervical vertebral malformations are rare and poorly characterised in veterinary medicine and consequently treatment strategies and clinical outcome are sparsely documented. RESULTS: Electronic clinical records at our veterinary referral hospital between April 2009 and November 2018 were searched for patients presented with cervical myelopathy secondary to an underlying suspected vertebral malformation/instability. Nine dogs met the inclusion criteria. Two dogs were diagnosed with atlantoaxial pseudoarthrosis, two dogs with a syndrome similar to Klippel-Feil in humans, two dogs with congenital cervical fusion, two dogs with congenital C2-C3 canal stenosis and deficiencies of the dorsal arch of the atlas and laminae of the axis and one with axial rotatory displacement. Tetraparesis, proprioceptive deficits, cervical hyperesthesia and cervical scoliosis were the most common clinical signs. The axis was the most commonly affected vertebrae (8/9 patients). Patients diagnosed with Klippel-Feil-like Syndrome were the younger (average of 262.5 days) and patients diagnosed with fused vertebrae the oldest (average of 2896 days) in our studied population (average of 1580.8 days). CONCLUSION: Cervical vertebral malformations are rare, or alternatively, being underdiagnosed in veterinary medicine. Patients diagnosed with Klippel-Feil-like Syndrome had a successful medium and long-term outcome with conservative management. Surgical treatment was often indicated for the other conditions presented in this study due to spinal instability and/or myelopathy. Stabilisations via ventral approaches were revealed to be safe. Multicentre and prospective studies are necessary in veterinary medicine to better characterise clinical outcomes in cervical vertebral malformations.