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Clinical reasoning in canine cervical hyperaesthesia: which presenting features are important?
  1. Nicholas John Grapes,
  2. Rowena Mary Anne Packer and
  3. Steven De Decker
  1. Department of Clinical Science and Services, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Nicholas John Grapes, Clinical Science and Services, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK; ngrapes{at}


Background To evaluate whether clinical features from the history, presentation, physical and neurological examination of dogs with cervical hyperaesthesia are statistically predictive of the underlying diagnosis.

Methods Two hundred and ninety-eight dogs presenting with cervical hyperaesthesia between January 2010 and October 2018 were investigated. Only neurologically normal dogs with cervical hyperaesthesia on examination were included, while those with concurrent neurological deficits including gait abnormalities and proprioceptive deficits were excluded. Univariate analysis of clinical variables was performed, and those associated with each diagnosis were retained for multivariable binary logistic regression models.

Results Ninety-five per cent of cervical hyperaesthesia presentations were represented by eight conditions that included steroid-responsive meningitis arteritis (SRMA; n=100), intervertebral disc extrusion (n=78), syringomyelia (SM; n=51), intervertebral disc protrusion (n=30), neoplasia (n=8), cervical spondylomyelopathy (n=7), immune-mediated polyarthritis (n=5) and meningoencephalomyelitis of unknown aetiology (n=5). Younger age (P=0.003), pyrexia (P=0.003) and haematology abnormalities (P=0.03) comprising leucocytosis, neutrophilia or monocytosis were associated with a diagnosis of SRMA.

Conclusions Easy-to-recognise clinical features can be used to identify the most likely differential diagnosis in neurologically normal dogs with cervical hyperaesthesia, which may aid the decision making of veterinary surgeons evaluating dogs with this presentation.

  • neurology
  • clinical practice
  • dogs
  • evidence-based medicine
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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval for this retrospective study was granted by the Royal Veterinary College Social Sciences Research Ethical Review Board (RVC; SR2018-1634).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. Deidentified participant data available from corresponding author. ORCID ID 0000-0002-8849-5508.

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