Neurologic and magnetic resonance imaging features of German Shepherd Dogs with cervical spondylomyelopathy: 10 cases (2006-2018)

Bonelli MA, da Costa RC.
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2019 Dec 1;255(11):1263-1269.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the neurologic signs and MRI findings for German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) with cervical spondylomyelopathy (CSM).

ANIMALS: 10 GSDs with confirmed CSM.

PROCEDURES: Medical records from January 2006 through July 2018 were reviewed to identify dogs with CSM. For each CSM-affected dog, information regarding age, duration of clinical signs, presence of neurologic signs, and treatments administered were obtained; the main site and cause of spinal cord compression and other vertebral and spinal cord changes were identified on MRI images.

RESULTS: Data for 9 male and 1 female (mean age, 6.2 years) GSDs with CSM were assessed. Dogs were classified as having chronic (n = 9) or acute (1) CSM. Nine dogs had ataxia; 1 dog had only signs of cervical hyperesthesia. Neurologic examination findings localized the lesion to the cervical portion of the vertebral column in each dog. The main spinal cord compression site was at the C6-7 (n = 5), C5-6 (4), or C4-5 (1) intervertebral spaces; osseous proliferation of the articular processes was the sole or a contributory cause of these compressions for 6 of the 10 dogs. Eight dogs also had dorsal compression of the spinal cord as the result of ligamenta flava hypertrophy.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The 10 GSDs of the present retrospective case series had CSM that was often characterized by osseous changes and a ligamentous component and were older than dogs of other breeds (eg, Great Dane and Mastiff) with osseous-associated CSM described in previous reports. Cervical spondylomyelopathy should be a differential diagnosis for GSDs with ataxia, paresis, or signs of cervical hyperesthesia.

Small animal: