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Disk-associated cervical spondylomyelopathy (DA-CSM) is a multifactorial neurological disorder in which progressive caudal cervical spinal cord compression is mainly caused by one or more intervertebral disk protrusions. The Doberman pinscher breed seems predisposed for this condition. The underlying cause and pathophysiology of DA-CSM are currently unknown. Recently, wider intervertebral disks have been put forward as a risk factor for development of clinically relevant DA-CSM. However, little is known about other factors affecting intervertebral disk width. Therefore the aim of this study was to assess the association between intervertebral disk width, measured on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and clinical status, age, gender and intervertebral disk location in dogs with and without clinical signs of DA-CSM.
Doberman pinschers with clinical signs of DA-CSM (N=17),clinically normal Doberman pinschers (N=20), and clinically normal English Foxhounds (N=17), underwent MRI of the cervical vertebral column. On sagittal T2-weighted images, intervertebral disk width was measured from C2-C3 to C6-C7. Intra –and interobserver agreement were assessed on a subset of 20 of the 54 imaging studies.
Intervertebral disk width was not significantly different between Doberman pinschers with clinical signs of DA-CSM, clinically normal Doberman pinschers or clinically normal English Foxhounds (p=0.43). Intervertebral disk width was positively associated with increasing age (p=0.029). Each monthly increase in age resulted in an increase of disk width by 0.0057mm. Intervertebral disk width was not significantly affected by gender (p=0.056), but was significantly influenced by intervertebral disk location (p <0.0001). The assessed measurements were associated with a good intra –and interobserver agreement.
The present study does not provide evidence that wider intervertebral disks are associated with clinical status in dogs with and without DA-CSM. Instead, it seems that cervical intervertebral disk width in dogs is positively associated with increase in age.