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Current insights and controversies in the pathogenesis and diagnosis of disc-associated cervical spondylomyelopathy in dogs
  1. S. De Decker, DVM, PhD, MRCVS1,
  2. R. C. da Costa, DMV, MSc, PhD Diplomate ACVIM2,
  3. H. A. Volk, Volk, DVM, PhD, Dip ECVN1 and
  4. L. M. L. Van Ham, DVM, PhD, DipECVN3
  1. 1Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Royal Veterinary College,Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL9 7TA, UK
  2. 2College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, 1900 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
  3. 3Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisbrylaan, 133, B-9820, Merelbeke, Belgium
  1. E-mail for correspondence: sdedecker{at}


Disc-associated cervical spondylomyelopathy (DA-CSM) is the most common cause of cervical spondylomyelopathy in dogs. In this condition, progressive caudal cervical spinal cord compression is typically caused by protrusion of one or more intervertebral discs. This disc-associated compression is sometimes seen in combination with mild vertebral abnormalities and dorsal compression resulting from ligamentum flavum hypertrophy. The intervertebral disc space between the sixth (C6) and seventh (C7) cervical vertebrae is most commonly affected. Although several large breed dogs can be affected, the adult to older dobermann is overrepresented. Clinical signs vary from cervical hyperaesthesia to tetraplegia. Dogs can present with a chronic progressive or an acute onset of clinical signs. Many aspects of this multifactorial neurological syndrome are not completely understood and are the subject of controversy and debate. Although several factors have been proposed, the underlying pathology and aetiology remain unknown. Recently, new insights have been gained in the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of this challenging neurological syndrome. This review outlines current controversies and new developments concerning the pathogenesis and diagnosis of DA-CSM.

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