Prognosis and treatment of intervertebral disc herniation in dogs

by Laurence Williams
20 November 2018, at 12:00am

Intervertebral disc herniation, secondary to premature disc degeneration, is a common cause of pain and neurological signs in dogs.

The severity of clinical signs may vary from pain only to severe neurological dysfunction, as detailed in the following scale:

  • Grade I – No neurological deficits
  • Grade II – Ataxia/ ambulatory paresis
  • Grade III – Non-ambulatory paresis
  • Grade IV - Plegia
  • Grade V – Plegia with no nociception

Prognosis and treatment options are grade dependent, as shown on the charts.

Conservative treatment may be considered in grade I and II cases, although the recovery period is significantly shorter with surgical treatment. In grades II to V the surgical treatment increases the success rate and should be considered. It’s important to note that for Grade V cases surgery should be performed within 48 hours of the first clinical signs, after which treatment prognosis decreases to less than 5%.

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