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What is Cervical Ventral Slot?

Cervical ventral slot is part of a surgical procedure used to treat intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) of the neck. The cervical ventral slot technique relieves pain and treats the condition by decompressing the spinal cord. This procedure is generally recommended for treating severe IVDD in cats, or for treating IVDD that does not respond to medication or other conservative treatments. 

Cervical Ventral Slot Procedure in Cats

  1. Prior to surgery, a myelogram, CT scan, or MRI will be taken to visualize the herniated disc.
  2. The cat will then be anesthetized and prepped for surgery.
  3. An incision will be made on the underside of the neck.
  4. The surgeon will use a surgical drill to create a small opening in the spinal column. 
  5. This opening will allow the surgeon to retrieve the herniated disc material using a tartar scraper or neurosurgical probe. This opening will also relieve compression of the spinal cord.
  6. The surgeon will ensure all herniated disc material has been removed, and that no damage to the spinal cord or venous sinus has occurred, before suturing the wound.
  7. The cat may be hospitalized for a period of up to four days.
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Efficacy of Cervical Ventral Slot in Cats

The efficacy of the cervical ventral slot technique depends on how well the cat was able to walk, or the degree of feeling in the limbs, prior to surgery. The surgery is generally effective in treating IVDD of the neck. There are some serious complications that can occur during surgery. However, these complications are typically uncommon, particularly if the surgeon is highly skilled. Many cats recover within six to eight weeks following surgery. The chances of the condition recurring following surgery are also lower.

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Cervical Ventral Slot Recovery in Cats

Cats may be hospitalized for up to four days following the procedure. Vets will administer analgesics and nutritional therapy as often as needed during this time. Owners should follow their veterinarian’s postoperative care instructions very carefully to prevent exacerbating the condition, delaying healing, or causing permanent damage to the spinal cord. On the return home, cats should be confined to a crate or small room whenever owners are not present for up to seven days or as instructed by the vet. Administer all prescribed medications – typically analgesics, corticosteroids, and antibiotics, in some cases – as directed by the vet. Cats may need assistance using the litter tray following surgery, so owners should ensure the litter tray is easily accessible during the recovery period. Collars should be removed during the recovery period. Some cats may need to participate in physical therapy to regain limb function. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled within ten to fourteen days to remove sutures. Another follow-up appointment will be scheduled within four to six weeks after surgery to monitor healing.

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Cost of Cervical Ventral Slot in Cats

The average cost of cervical ventral slot will vary based on standards of living as well as any additional costs incurred, including medications, laboratory tests, and postoperative supportive care. The cost of cervical ventral slot surgery ranges from $3,600 to $4,600.

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Cat Cervical Ventral Slot Considerations

Complications are possible with any surgical procedure. The complications associated with the cervical ventral slot technique include, but are not limited to:

  • Infection of the spine
  • Side effects of postoperative medications
  • Damage to the spinal cord
  • Damage to the venous sinus
  • Anesthetic death

The chances of damaging the spinal cord as a result of surgery, although rare, are higher with the cervical ventral slot procedure. Although this surgery is less invasive than similar procedures – including dorsal laminectomy and hemilaminectomy – the surgeon will have decreased visibility using the ventral slot technique. This could result in permanent damage to the spinal cord or lameness.

This decreased visibility can also cause a similar complication – damage to the venous sinus. If the venous sinus hemorrhages during surgery, the surgeon will place an absorbable gelatin sponge to combat hemorrhaging. Once the bleeding has been reduced, the surgeon will place an absorbable gelatin sponge or a fat graft over the slot.

Anesthetic death is uncommon, particularly in cats that have been evaluated for anesthetization prior to surgery.

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Cervical Ventral Slot Prevention in Cats

Owners should ensure their cats receive adequate nutrition and do not become overweight or obese. Cats should be discouraged from climbing stairs or jumping excessively following the conclusion of the recovery period. Cats that have been treated for IVDD of the neck should not be bred, and should ideally be spayed or neutered.

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Cervical Ventral Slot Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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