What is Disorders Leading to Laminectomy?
Back disorders like intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) and lumbosacral stenosis can cause your dog severe pain and may even lead to partial paralysis if untreated. Laminectomy is the surgery of choice for these severe back disorders. It can also be utilized to access growths that are located within the spine so that removal is possible. This surgery does require a lengthy period of strict bed rest for the best results, but it can significantly improve your pet’s quality of life.
Laminectomy is a surgical procedure in which a portion of bone is removed from the spine in order to allow access to the spinal cord or to allow decompression of the discs.
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Symptoms of Disorders Leading to Laminectomy in Dogs
Although the diseases that may lead to a laminectomy are all a little different, they have several symptoms in common. You may see the following signs in dogs that are experiencing spinal trouble.
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain or stiffness
- Hunched back
- Lack of coordination
- Loss of appetite
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Paralysis in one or more limbs
- Poor reflexes
- Reluctance to rise
- Weight loss
- Yelping unexpectedly when touched or moving
A dorsal laminectomy is the more common of the two types of laminectomy for the cervical spine. In this surgical procedure, the surgeon removes part of the bone from the top of the spinal column.
This laminectomy is generally used in the thoracolumbar portion of the spine, and allows for visualization beneath the spinal cord, which is more difficult during a dorsal laminectomy.
Both of these procedures can be both challenging and risky, and therefore they are usually completed by a specialist with the appropriate tools. Potential complications can include damage to the spine, hemorrhage, and infection.
Causes of Disorders Leading to Laminectomy in Dogs
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
IVDD is a spinal disorder in which one or more intervertebral discs have lost their ability to absorb shock between the vertebrae.
- Hansen Type I- This type of IVDD is most commonly seen in smaller breed dogs, particularly in breeds prone to a disorder of cartilage formation known as chondrodystrophy; it generally presents with an acute onset
- Hansen Type II- Type II IVDD is a slower onset degeneration, and is usually seen in older dogs of the larger breeds
This disease is often the result of either congenital or degenerative narrowing of the spinal cord. In the imaging tests of young dogs this disorder is easily spotted, but older dogs may have multiple degenerative diseases, making it harder to pinpoint the problem.
Diagnosis of Disorders Leading to Laminectomy in Dogs
A physical examination as well as a neurological examination will help your pet’s doctor to evaluate the general health of your pet and will also assist them in pinpointing the location of the pain. A neurological examination may help to determine if any nerve damage has already occurred. Preliminary blood tests, such as a complete blood count and biochemistry profile, will also be done to determine if there are any infections or imbalances present.
An electromyogram can be used to determine the electrical activity of the muscles, and a spinal tap may be done as well to get a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. In most cases, the analysis of the fluid will reveal both that there is an infection and which bacterium or fungus is causing the inflammation. Radiograph (x-ray) imaging, CT scans, and MRI’s may be used to help visualize the location and extent of the disease, and a neurological examination may be done as well. In many cases, a contrast dye will be injected into the space around the spinal cord to better see the fluid’s movement within the spine during the x-ray procedure.
Treatment of Disorders Leading to Laminectomy in Dogs
This surgery requires both specialized equipment and training and takes between one and three hours to complete. Once the operation is concluded, your dog will be subject to caged confinement at home for three to six weeks after surgery. It is vital to your dog’s recovery that this confinement remains in force. Your veterinarian will also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help manage the pain that your dog will experience after major surgery, which may also mask your dog’s pain.
This means that your canine companion may appear to show rapid improvement which may tempt you to let them have a little more freedom. This may cause further damage to the spine and the nerves and muscles that surround it. As your dog will be spending a great deal of time on their beds for a few weeks, it is important that it be comfortable and well padded. If swelling and nerve damage have caused your dog to be unable to turn themselves, over it is crucial that you do so every few hours to prevent pressure sores from developing, and in addition, massage therapy may help to stimulate blood flow.
Recovery of Disorders Leading to Laminectomy in Dogs
Once the crate rest period has been completed, your veterinarian will probably discuss which physical therapy exercises may be started. Physical therapy is a vital part of a good outcome with these disorders, but it’s just as crucial that you get the go ahead from your veterinarian first. Some of the types of therapy that your dog’s doctor might recommend incorporating are:
- Assisted walking
- Figure eights
- Resistance exercises
- Stepping over things
- Stimulating the feet
- Walking down a gentle incline
- Weight shifting and weight bearing
Hydrotherapy or swimming is also recommended for dogs recovering from laminectomy as it allows for a full range of motion without putting any weight on the spine.
Disorders Leading to Laminectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Is there any other way to treat back issues instead of surgary.
Dog is a doxe-mix. Can medication or injections help and if so what. Right now he is on rimadyl.
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