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Diagnostic imaging of cervical vertebral malformation-malarticulation in Bernese mountain dogs
Bernese mountain dogs are predisposed for a variety of diseases, e.g. to malignant histiocytosis, but other breeds have a much higher incidence in cervical vertebral malformation-malarticulations. These malformations can be very hard to diagnose - this article describes how the clinical findings and the magnetic resonance imaging features help to diagnose a problem that might be underdiagnosed in this breed!

Seven Bernese mountain dogs (four males and three females) were diagnosed with cervical vertebral malformation-malarticulation by magnetic resonance imaging.

The following data were evaluated retrospectively: (1) abnormalities of the cervical vertebral column and spinal cord, (2) spinal cord compression, (3) intervertebral disc degeneration and herniation, (4) severity of clinical signs pretreatment and after treatment, (5) type of treatment and (6) outcome.

Results: Spin echo T1-weighted and T2-weighted images disclosed multi-level, extradural compressive spinal cord lesions (ventral, dorsolateral or both) spanning from intervertebral disc spaces C3-4 to C6-7.

In all seven dogs, T2-weighted images disclosed one or more intramedullary hyperintensities associated with extradural spinal cord compression.

Surgery was performed in five dogs.

Two dogs were managed medically.

The prognosis for surgical or conservative management in Bernese mountain dogs was similar to cervical vertebral malformation-malarticulation in other breeds.

Cervical vertebral malformation-malarticulation is an important differential diagnosis for young to middle-aged Bernese mountain dogs with a C1-5 or C6-T2 neuroanatomic localisation.

Dorsolateral spinal cord compression associated with articular process hypertrophy was the most common feature of cervical vertebral malformation-malarticulation in the seven Bernese mountain dogs evaluated.


Source: J. S. Eagleson, J. Diaz, S. R. Platt, M. Kent, J. M. Levine†, N. J. H. Sharp and S. J. Schatzberg (2009): Cervical vertebral malformation-malarticulation syndrome in the Bernese mountain dog: clinical and magnetic resonance imaging features. In: Journal of Small Animal Practice
Volume 50 Issue 4, Pages 186 - 193





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