16th April 2019
Dulcie, a 7-year-old Female Pug, was recently brought in to see our neurology team, suffering a two-week history of progressive weakness and wobbliness on her back legs. A clinical examination with one of our neurologists Dr Colin Driver confirmed there was a problem with the spinal cord in her lower back that would need investigating further. An MRI scan revealed Dulcie’s spinal cord was being compressed by a bulging or ‘slipped’ disc, called a protrusion. However, one of the supporting joints of the spine (facet joint) also appeared abnormal and so a CT scan was also performed. This confirmed Dulcie had abnormally formed (dysplastic) facet joints with hypoplasia (reduction in size) of one and aplasia (absence) of the other. It is hard to be certain whether these abnormal joints caused the slipped disc, but they would affect its management as decompressing the spinal cord would require removal of bone potentially leading to a further loss of stability.
Dulcie was discharged for monitoring and rest, but she failed to improve and concern for discomfort led to a mutual decision to operate.
During surgery, a small dorsolateral approach to the thoracolumbar spine was made and the spinal cord was decompressed following mini-hemilaminectomy and partial discectomy (removal of the offending portion of bulging disc). Using fluoroscopy guidance, a 4-hole 2.0mm ‘string-of-pearls’ plate was used to fuse the vertebrae either side of the disc. A post-operative CT scan confirmed accurate placement of the implants. Dulcie made an excellent recovery and was walking independently the morning after surgery. Within three days she was discharged for further care at home. We look forward to assessing her progress with time, not least because she was a very popular inpatient!
Pugs and other screw-tailed breeds are unfortunately prone to a range of vertebral and spinal cord malformations.
Our neurologists have a wealth of experience in diagnosing and managing these conditions and would be delighted to discuss any potential referrals.
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