Caudal Cervical Spondylomyelopathy — Wobblers

Sam is a Great Dane but he does not have Wobblers -- just being a great model for me!

Sam is a Great Dane but he does not have Wobblers — just being a great model for me!

Caudal Cervical Spondylomyelopathy or Wobblers is a compression of the spinal cord due to malformation of bony or ligamentous structures typically at C5-C6 or C6-C7 at the base of the neck.  Wobbler is usually found in large breeds such as Great Danes and Dobermans.

Wobblers in Great Danes usually affects the young while in Dobermans it is more of a middle age disease.  The malformation causes an abnormal gait in the rear legs.

Other signs of Wobblers can include:  pain, neurologic deficits, ataxia (staggering), worn nails, muscle atrophy, and even paresis or paralysis.

Wobblers can usually be diagnosed by lateral radiographs but myelograms or even MRIs may be needed for complete diagnosis.  If Wobblers is the diagnosis, then surgery is the recommended treatment.

NSAIDs must be decreased prior to surgery to help combat the possibility of bleeding.  There are two main types of surgery:

  1. Ventral slot – in which the surgeon makes the entrance to the spinal cord through the neck and removes the bony structure that is causing the compression.
  2. Ventral slot with distraction and fusion – the surgeon makes the entrance to the spinal cord through the neck, removes the bony structure causing the compression but he also places a scaffold between the vertebrae and fuses the space closed.

Post-op care must be very consistent and conscientious.  You must watch for pressure sores especially on bony points.  Passive and active range of motion exercises must be performed at least daily but would be better if performed at least three to four times a day.  Another post-op consideration must be for bladder catheterization.  Bladder catheterization is easily performed once you have been successfully taught by the surgeon or rehabilitation personnel.

Rehabilitation facilities are available for help with the care of your pet during the post-op period.  They have the resources and ability to help your pet regain his quality of life and be functional.

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