Diskospondylitis in Dogs--Retrospective Study: 146 Cases (2000-2008)
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2009
V.A.B.F. Wirthl; D.M.N. Simões; K.K. Kanayama; B.M.P. Coelho; P.R.G. Monteiro; S.M. Unruh; F.A. Sterman; M.M. Kogika
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Diskospondylitis is a disease of the intervertebral disc with concomitant process of osteomyelitis of adjacent vertebrae, usually associated with bacterial infections. The aim of this study was to investigate the medical records of 146 dogs with diskospondylitis from January 2000 to January 2008. The diagnosis of diskospondylitis was based on history, physical examination, radiographic findings and microbiological analysis, when available. The prevalence of the disease was 0.16% of a total of 88,850 new cases assisted in that period. Males were more affected (62%), age and body weight ranging from 1 to 8 y-old (mean = 6.8) and 11 to 40kg (mean = 25.5), respectively. Most of the dogs were large breeds and 65% had breed definition; German Shepherd (19%) was the most common, followed by Rottweiler (9%), Great Dane (8%) and Labrador Retriever (7%). The main clinical signs were: locomotor abnormalities (72%), pain in the spine and vocalization (50%), dysorexia or anorexia (30%), weight loss (12%), neurologic deficits (10%) and hyperthermia (8%). Bacteriologic cultures of urine were performed in 20 cases: no bacterial growth in 17 animals (85%), and it was positive to Staphylococcus sp (10%; n=2) and Streptococcus sp (5%; n=1). Blood cultures were performed in 39 cases, 28 dogs (72%) were negative and 11 dogs (28%) were positive. Identified microbes were Brucella canis (64%), Staphylococcus sp (27%) and Streptococcus sp (9%). Initial serologic testing for the detection of B. canis consisted of the rapid slide agglutination test that was performed in 98 dogs, whose results were negative in 65% and positive in 29%. However the definitive diagnosis of B. canis infection was considered only when the bacterium was isolated in blood culture. Radiographic findings compatible with diskospondylitis were observed in the thoracic (56%), lumbar (31%) and cervical (13%) spine, associated frequently with multiple lesions. The segments of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine most affected were, respectively, C6-C7, T5-T10 and L1-L2, L2, L3 and L7-S1. Fifty-nine animals were treated (cephalexin was prescribed to 64% of the cases and enrofloxacin in 28%). Complete remission of clinical abnormalities was observed in 28 (48%) of animals and 20 (34%) dogs had marked improvement. Three (5%) animals remained unchanged. Seven (12%) animals were euthanatized and one died before treatment. According to the findings observed, B. canis may be considered as an important agent associated with diskospondylitis, and the clinical and imaging findings could help to identify the disease in clinical practice.

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V.A.B.F. Wirthl
School of Veterinary Medicine - University of São Paulo
SP, Brazil

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