Minimally invasive microsurgical decompression of an intervertebral disc protrusion in a dog

Guevar J, Olby N
Vet Surg. 2019 Jun 24. doi: 10.1111/vsu.13263.

OBJECTIVE: To report the successful treatment of intervertebral disc protrusion with minimally invasive microsurgery in a large breed dog.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective case report.

ANIMAL: A 4-year-old, neutered male, German shepherd dog presented with chronic progressive ambulatory paraparesis and thoracolumbar pain; lumbar intervertebral disc protrusion and severe spinal cord compression at L2-L3 were diagnosed.

METHODS: A minimally invasive approach was used to access the target surgical area by using a muscle splitting technique and retractors. Intraoperative fluoroscopy confirmed correct placement. Magnification and illumination through a surgical microscope were used (microsurgery) to perform the spinal cord decompression by means of a foraminotomy and lateral corpectomy.

RESULTS: Technically, the combination of fluoroscopy and muscle splitting approach offered adequate minimally invasive access. Microsurgery allowed for precise and efficient spinal cord decompression. Clinically, no immediate postoperative neurological deterioration was observed. Opioid usage was limited to 24 hours postoperatively. Focal muscle swelling was observed postoperatively for 2 days, and hospital stay was 3 days. At 7 weeks postoperatively, neurological examination results were normal, and postoperative MRI confirmed spinal cord decompression. No complications were reported.

CONCLUSION: The procedure was associated with a small incision, limited muscle trauma, early improvement of the neurological status, a short hospital stay, and limited postoperative pain.

CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: This case provides evidence that minimally invasive microsurgery is an effective treatment for intervertebral disc protrusion in large breed dogs and may offer benefits regarding postoperative pain and functional recovery.

Small animal: