Surgical treatment of dorsal hemivertebrae associated with kyphosis by spinal segmental stabilisation, with or without decompression

Vet J. 2014 Nov;202(2):267-73. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.08.011. Epub 2014 Aug 15.


This retrospective case series examined the effectiveness of spinal segmental stabilisation, with or without decompression, in nine dogs with neurological deficits associated with dorsal hemivertebrae. Data on signalment, preoperative neurological status, imaging findings, surgical techniques and outcome were evaluated. All cases occurred in young or adult, small-breed dogs with neurological signs ranging from progressive moderate pelvic limb ataxia to non-ambulatory paraparesis. Six dogs also showed urinary and faecal incontinence. In each dog, one or more dorsal thoracic hemivertebra(e) were detected by radiography and MRI. In all dogs, hemivertebra(e) were associated with kyphosis and reduced vertebral canal diameter. All dogs were surgically managed with spinal segmental stabilisation, using Steinmann pins and orthopaedic wires and/or sutures attached to the spinous processes. Three dogs also underwent additional decompressive surgery. Post-operative follow-up ranged from 1.5 to 5.5 years. Immediate or delayed post-operative complications occurred in three dogs, including implant migration or loosening. Eight dogs showed long-term gait improvement, with resolution of incontinence if previously present. At 2-6 years post-surgery, four dogs were neurologically normal, three had mild residual ataxia, one had moderate ambulatory paraparesis, and one dog relapsed 3.5 years after surgery, resulting in severe paraparesis. Spinal segmental stabilisation techniques, with or without decompression, can result in satisfactory outcomes in small dogs with hemivertebrae and mild to moderate neurological signs. Further adaptations might be required to avoid implant loosening and allow continued growth in immature dogs.

Keywords: Dog; Kyphosis; Neurological deficits; Spinal stabilisation; Vertebral malformation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases / surgery*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Kyphosis / surgery
  • Kyphosis / veterinary*
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / veterinary*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome