Objective: To compare the effects of decompressive surgery (DSX), electroacupuncture (EAP), and DSX followed by EAP (DSX + EAP) for the treatment of thoracolumbar intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) in dogs with severe neurologic deficits of > 48 hours' duration.
Design: Retrospective case series and prospective clinical trial.
Animals: 40 dogs between 3 and 6 years old and weighing between 10 and 20 kg (22 and 44 lb) with long-standing (> 48 hours) clinical signs of severe neurologic disease attributable to thoracolumbar IVDD.
Procedures: Thoracolumbar medullar injury was classified on the basis of neurologic signs by use of a scale ranging from 1 (least severe) to 5 (most severe). The DSX dogs (n = 10) were retrospectively selected from those that underwent DSX for the treatment of thoracolumbar IVDD. In addition, 19 dogs received EAP alone and 11 dogs underwent DSX followed by EAP (DSX + EAP). Outcome was considered a clinical success when a dog initially classified as grade 4 or 5 was classified as grade 1 or 2 within 6 months after the end of treatment.
Results: The proportion of dogs with clinical success was significantly higher for dogs that underwent EAP (15/19) than for dogs that underwent DSX (4/10); the proportion of dogs with clinical success for dogs that underwent DSX + EAP was intermediate (8/11).
Conclusions and clinical relevance: EAP was more effective than DSX for recovery of ambulation and improvement in neurologic deficits in dogs with long-standing severe deficits attributable to thoracolumbar IVDD.