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Mocha's mum December 9th, 2006 01:45 PM

Intervertebral Disc Disease
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) a common neurologic syndrome seen in canines. IVDD has been reported in 84 breeds with particular susceptibility in certain small breeds; generally dogs with 'short legs and long backs' (Dachshund, Basset Hound, Beagle, Lhasa Apso, etc.)

Intervertebral discs act as cushions between the vertebrae and function as the shock absorbers of the spine. A normal disc has two regions: a resilient gelatinous nucleus in the center and an outer fibrous ring that encircles the nucleus. A degenerative disc loses its resiliency when its jelly-like center calcifies and takes on a gritty, hardened consistency. No longer able to cushion the vertebrae, the center is predisposed to bulging and to rupture (extrusion), resulting in pressure on the spinal cord, pain, and paralysis.

Mild disc rupture may cause back pain while a more moderate rupture causes weakness and a wobbly gait. If a large amount ruptures, or if the disc ruptures quickly and causes spinal cord swelling, the pressure can result in a potentially life threatening paralysis.

A diagnosis of IVDD is made on the history and neurologic examination. X-rays can reveal the presence of degenerative, calcified discs and may outline narrowed disc spaces with evidence of extruded/ruptured calcified disc material in the spinal canal. A definitive diagnosis may require a myelogram (a contrast dye study of the spine).

An individualís prognosis depends on many factors:
- The severity of neurologic dysfunction,
- The number of previous episodes of back pain,
- The amount of disc material that has ruptured,
- The degree of accompanying spinal cord swelling,
- How quickly the disc ruptured (minutes to over several days),
- The length of time the disc has been ruptured,
- The overall physical condition of the patient

In general, the ability to experience deep pain in the rear limbs and tail area remains the key prognostic indicator. If paralysis is present, how quickly they went down and how quickly they may have lost deep pain perception are the keys to determining if permanent damage has occurred. Therefore, the neurologic status and x-rays are used to determine the severity of each individualís condition and, subsequently, the best treatment.

Individuals experiencing their first episode of back pain with minimal neurologic dysfunction may be treated medically. The medications include corticosteroids to relieve the cord swelling and analgesics to reduce the pain caused by intense inflammation. Patients with recurring painful episodes or significant neurologic deficits are candidates for a hemilaminectomy. This procedure removes one wall of the vertebrae allowing the surgeon to extract the disc material from the spinal canal without injuring the spinal cord. With pressure removed from around the cord, neurologic function may then begin to return.

A second procedure is then performed to remove the center of the adjacent degenerative discs. This procedure can include up to six intervertebral discs and involves cutting a window in the outer fibrous ring of the discs followed by extraction of the calcified centers (fenestration). This fenestration of the disc centers should prevent recurrence of any disc ruptures, while allowing normal, pain free motion at each disc site. As the resected center of each disc center scars, there is little to no effect on back mobility.

heaven20 October 1st, 2007 05:46 AM

thanks for the information

Renay February 13th, 2008 05:16 PM

I had a labrador a few years ago who was diagnosed with something similar to this, however it was more common in larger breeds than smaller breeds from what I had understood. It was all basically the same except to the untrained eye it appeared to be hip displaysia. Instead of paralysis the dog would lose coordination of her hind legs and would thus slip and fall all over the place only to regain use of her legs within the next few seconds. The vet said it was caused by the spinal cord being constricted or having pressure applied to it by the vertibrae It was extremely sad to watch, and she was euthanized due to my fathers fear of her falling down the stairs and breaking her hips. To get to the point, could this be the same thing even though i was told it was most common in labs and sheperds?

Auburn2932 February 24th, 2008 06:33 AM

disk disease
I just lost my little dog, April in December from this, we had to put her down. We spent thousands of dollars, had the operation for it, she was paralized twice, before the operation. After the operation, we brought her home, first day was okay, but she went down hill right away, we put her to sleep to end her pain and suffering. If asked I would never do this operation again to a dog.

SnowDancer February 24th, 2008 11:06 AM

Auburn, I am very sorry for your loss. But I have to tell you that when the full neck/body surgery works - despite having 3 prior full paralysis "events" and you see the absolute hell your dog goes through - the joy on your pups face - and your faces and those of all of the vets - it is worth it. This is what one of my vets at the time told us when we went with the surgery in 1989 when it was still a new procedure in Canada. She had been living in California and had seen the positive results - if it worked. There are absolutely no guarantees. Jump forward to 2003 and our just turned 6 Dachshund and my breathing a sigh of relief (our first guy paralyzed the first time at age 1 and had surgery at 3) - when he balked at doing something normal. He as it turned out had Stage 2 disc disease but neither we nor the surgeon knew that and since he paralzyed in 15 minutes he had to be rushed to the Vet School with the on-call neuros (in Toronto the specialists need a 24 hour work-up period). The surgeon was very optimistic, but due to Stage 2 he only came back to 70% of his body function - which was more than enough, but we were warned he would suffer another event within a year and a second surgery would not be successful. We had 10 months to the day of his surgery with him, which I would not give up for a moment. Had I known this would be the case, No, I would not have gone ahead with the surgery, but we had no time to think it through due to the nature of the paralysis and of course things looked good. Our neuro's 2 dogs were at home recoving from same surgery. If I had a Dachshund now, of if my Eskimo should develop a disc problem, I would have the surgery in a heartbeat, provided that circumstances were not as they were with my second guy - I knew every single sigh to watch for which was confusing because Stage 2 doesn't present quite the same way. Also to be considered are the number of discs affected - in both my cases it was every single disc in my guys' bodies plus the neck - and neck is very serious. To me, as I am sure you can understand, one or two discs is like day surgery. Just a different perspective. Actually, my Eskie pulled a back muscles last May at age 3 and I was at the vet pronto - hadn't seen him do it and had just read of 2 Eskies who had paralyzed from disc problems. Fortunately it was not that, but I was ready for the surgery all things looking good. We did not get another Dachshund because the back problems suffered by this darling breed are on the rise if that is at all possible. We couldn't put ourselves or the dog through it knowing going in what was likely in store for the dog. Every dog can develop a very serious, very expensive health problem. We just wanted our guy to have a fair shake. So far, so good. I hope you don't ever have to go through this again. But I have to tell you, when the surgery works it is so wonderful. When he died, every system failed over night - except his heart - and his back - it was still going strong.

Mutt lover October 23rd, 2008 03:30 PM

disc disease
I have two lab-beagle mixes from the same litter. their mother was the beagle and the father was a chocolate lab.

One of my two has just been diagnosed with calcification between vertibre. My vet told me it is common in beagles, although I had two growing up and never had this problem.

My dogs are about 3 1/2 years old, still young I thought.

Can anyone tell me what to expect or how to treat this condition?

I am heartbroken at this point.

SnowDancer October 24th, 2008 12:11 PM

See your "visitor" messages - but basic answer is Yes - Beagles are now coming down with disc disease at an increasing rate.

Shaykeija April 20th, 2011 10:53 PM

I wonder is this the result of bad breeding or something else? I have not experienced this with any of mine yet.

Tundra_Queen June 29th, 2011 05:13 AM

I had a long hair dauchaund X and this happened to her. Luckily she recovered, but we were told we had to carry her up and down stairs, no jumping up on anything. It took her a few weeks to recover and we were scared we were going to lose her. But she recovered and lived to be 11.

Melinda June 29th, 2011 05:54 AM

we lost our almost 15 yr old beagle to this, it was instantanious , pain, paralysis, she was too old to put under, plus she had breathing problems. we had her set to sleep to end her suffering, you couldn't even touch her and she'd scream in pain.

Longblades June 29th, 2011 07:55 AM

IVB is more like a really bad arthritis though I could not find a conclusive report on what actually causes it or if it could indeed be a result of bad breeding. [url][/url]

Our last Lab girl had it, along with significant spinal spondylosis, which is arthritis. She was diagnosed after an acute episode of pain at age 12.5 and lived a happy life till age 14.5. She lost some fecal control, whether from the ailment or the pain meds we are not sure, but not urinary control, which would have been a lot messier in the house.

Good muscle support in the back is very important and if at all possible an exercise regime should be kept up, if possible. Swimming is good but we just cut our skiing and hiking outings in half (making them one hour instead of two). As time went on they got shorter and shorter, but more in a day till we were going out for 20 or 15 or 10 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day, plus around our own yard. We discovered the two acre park behind our house which I had previously never walked around because it was so small.

WE did lift her in and out of the jeep and she stopped going up and down the stairs in our house. REally and truly, I think the ailment that had a much sadder and more profound effect on her enjoyment of life was her increasing deafness. We could medicate for pain, and were using very strong meds at the end. But we could do nothing for the deafness. It was so isolating for her, coupled with being unable to go anywhere in the house she wanted. I think loneliness, between the three health problems, was the worst to deal with.

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