Memphis Veterinary IVDD
What is Intervertebral disc disease?
Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is the most common neurological condition seen in dogs. The intervertebral disc is a shock-absorbing cushion between the bones of the spinal column. Clinical signs of IVDD occur when the disc ruptures, or herniates, causing compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots. Clinical signs can include back or neck pain and may progress to loss of coordination, weakness, the inability to support weight, loss of pain sensation and ultimately complete paralysis. The progression of signs is dependent upon the degree of compression and the rate at which it occurred. The loss of voluntary muscle movement and pain sensation are serious signs that your pet needs immediate medical attention. Rapid medical/surgical treatment can greatly improve the chance that your pet will return to normal function.
A tentative diagnosis of IVDD is made based on the patient’s history and neurological 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 advanced diagnostics, such as a myelogram (a contrast dye study of the spine) and CT Scan. These diagnostic methods are used to confirm not only the location of the ruptured disc but also the amount of spinal cord compression and swelling. Although infrequent, seizures can occur with a myelogram. These seizures are generally controlled with medication and do not recur. Hospitalization with 24-hour monitoring is recommended following any advanced diagnostics.
How is IVDD treated?
Treatment options for intervertebral disc disease include both medical and surgical management. Conservative management is only appropriate for patients whose neurological signs are mild. Conservative treatment includes strict crate rest and medical therapy with muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications. If patients do not show improvement with conservative management, or if they have a recurrent episode, a CT/myelogram is recommended. Surgical decompression of the spinal cord (removing the compressived disc material) is also recommended when initial signs are moderate to severe. Paralysis (inability to move legs – front or rear) is considered a surgical emergency and emergency medical attention should be sought. The prognosis for recovery depends on the degree of the spinal cord injury, presence of voluntary movement, degree of pain perception and the duration of the clinical signs prior to surgery.