Veterinary Neurology and Neurosurgery Journal (VNNJ) Case Study 5Vet Neurol Neurosurg J. January 2001;3(1):1.
Full Text Article (What's Your Diagnosis?)
Signalment, History, Physical Examination
Signalment: This patient is a ten-month-old, spayed female Rottweiler
History: Progressive ataxia, thoracic limb weakness and apparent cervical pain for past three months. The owners noted that the gait "has always been different".
Past Medical History: No history of trauma or illness was reported by the owners.
Medications: No medications have been given
General: Body weight 22 kg, rectal temperature 38.3; heart rate 120/m; rhythm regular, femoral pulses equal and synchronous. Respiratory rate: panting; Mucous membranes pink, capillary refill time < 2 sec.
Integument: No abnormalities noted.
Eyes, ears, nose and throat: No abnormalities noted.
Cardiopulmonary, abdominal cavity, musculoskeletal, lymph nodes: No abnormalities noted.
Consciousness: Alert, responsive.
Posture: N; Falling, rolling: Absent; Righting reactions: N; Tremor: None
Circling: Not observed
Postural and Placing Reactions:
Proprioceptive placing: Slow in all four limbs
Visual and tactile placing: Not examined
Hopping, hemistand/walk: Slow in all four limbs.
Wheelbarrowing: Unable to evaluate properly, fore limbs or hind limbs
Spinal (segmental) reflexes: (N=normal; D= depressed; A= Absent; I= increased;)
Tendon Reflexes: Extensor Carpi: N: Biceps brachii: N; Triceps brachii: N
Flexion Reflexes: N
Crossed Extensor Reflexes: Absent clinically
Tendon Reflexes: Quadriceps: N; Gastroc/Dig. flexors: N.
Crossed Extensor Reflexes: Absent clinically
Perineal Reflexes: N
Cutaneous Trunci Reflexes: Present in all normal segmental levels.
Painful Stimulation: Normal withdrawal responses.
I: Not tested
II: Vision apparently normal.
III, IV, VI: Pupils equal, normal direct and indirect pupillary light reflexes. Normal ocular positions and movements.
VIII: No head tilt; Physiological Nystagmus present. No spontaneous nystagmus; no strabismus, Audition apparently normal.
IX, X, XI: Normal swallowing action in response to stimulation.
XII: Tongue: Normal position, symmetry, movements.
Hematology, Chemistry and Urinalysis
Clinical Chemistry Laboratory Results
Cerebrospinal Fluid Studies
Cerebrospinal Fluid: Total and Differential Cell Counts; Total Protein
Fluid from: Lumbar region
Total erythrocytes: 1953/uL
Differential Nucleated Cell Counts:
Plain Radiograph (1 film) and Myelography (6 films)
Click on an image to see a larger view.
Survey Radiographs: Please note: Only one suspicious area was found on the pre-myelographic survey films. That film is not shown here but is included with the myelographic films above.
Case Summary and Diagnosis
The clinical signs in this case indicated a cervical myelopathy. Diagnostic imaging revealed compression of the dorsal and lateral aspects of the spinal cord at vertebral level C 2-3. At laminectomy, a fibrous mass was removed. Histopathology revealed the mass to consist of nothing more than fibrotic tissue. Postoperative course was good.
There are several disorders in young Rottweiler dogs that cause signs similar to those of this dog. Neuroaxonal dystrophy, leukoencephalomyelopathy, subarachnoid cyst and fibrotic stenosis all have been described in this breed. All three disorders will cause a progressive ataxia and hypermetria, especially in the thoracic limbs. Myelography and/or other imaging is helpful in revealing spinal cord compression. CSF examination may be helpful also. In both neuroaxonal dystrophy1 and leukoencephalomyelopathy2 the ancillary tests yield normal results. In these diseases, diagnoses must be made by necropsy and histological examination of the brain and spinal cord.
In an earlier report, Baum, de Lahunta, and Trotter3 described a young Rottweiler with a progressive cervical myelopathy. Their diagnostic testing, surgical findings and surgical biopsy report were similar to this case. The cause of the stenosis at this site in Rottweilers is still unknown. It is thought that ligamentous proliferation may be secondary to joint instability and chronic stress, but instability was not identified in the previous case report nor in this case.
1. Chrisman CL, Cork L, Gamble AD. Neuroaxonal dystrophy of Rottweiler dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1984; Vol 184: 464-467.
2. Gamble AD, Chrisman C. A leukoencephalomyelopathy of Rottweiler Dogs. Vet Pathol 1984; 21:274-280.
3. Baum F, de Lahunta A, Trotter E J. Cervical fibrotic stenosis in a young Rottweiler. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1992; Vol 201: 1222-1224.
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