What is Pediculectomy?

The pedicle is a small stub of bone that helps form the vertebral arch. There are several nerve roots that surround the pedicle. When a dog suffers from a condition such as intervertebral disk disease, the height of the pedicle may change. As a result, the nerve roots will wind themselves tightly around the pedicle. This can cause discomfort for the dog. 

In order to relieve the pressure of the winding nerves, a veterinarian may suggest the pediculectomy procedure. The goal of the pediculectomy procedure is to help decompress the pedicle nerves. 

The pediculectomy surgery may often be recommended as a treatment for intervertebral disc disease in dogs. This is because this procedure is considered a less invasive option for pain relief.

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Pediculectomy Procedure in Dogs

The pediculectomy surgery is often performed by a board certified veterinary orthopedic surgeon. Prior to meeting with the orthopedic surgeon, the dog may have to be referred by the veterinarian they see on a regular basis. 

During the initial visit, the veterinarian will perform a physical exam on the dog. The veterinarian may recommend radiographs (x-rays). These radiographs will also be forwarded to the orthopedic surgeon, though the surgeon may take his or her own radiographs. 

The dog will visit the veterinarian orthopedic surgeon. Prior to the surgery the surgeon will perform an examination. They may also perform more radiographs. Blood work may be a possibility as well. 

How soon the surgery is performed will depend on the severity of the case. In some cases, the surgeon may recommend doing the pediculectomy the same day of the initial exam. 

On the day of the pediculectomy procedure, the dog will receive an anesthesia. The dog is then laid on its side with the neck extended. The area that is damaged is then shaved and washed with an antiseptic. 

Once the area is clean, a small incision will be made. The surgeon will then place a tool known as a dilator to expand the surgical area. The dilator will be placed with the help of fluoroscopic guidance. 

After dilation of the area, the veterinarian will use a specialized drill to make a small window area. This area will allow them to see the spinal area better. The surgeon will then remove the pedicle in order to decompress the area. The area is then closed up using routine surgical techniques. 

Efficacy of Pediculectomy in Dogs

Pediculectomy is one of the least invasive treatments for the pain caused by spinal injury. In addition, most dogs respond well to this treatment. The results of this procedure are quite permanent, as it involves removing the pedicle. 

Other forms of treatments that may be considered include acupuncture, exercises, and medication. Veterinarians may also recommend treatment such as crate rest. These may be the best option for cases that are less severe. In most cases, the pediculectomy surgery ends up being the best option for a dog suffering from compression in the spinal area. 

Pediculectomy Recovery in Dogs

After the pediculectomy procedure, a veterinarian may recommend very limited activity for your dog. Dogs may stay up to seven days in the veterinary hospital after a pediculectomy. During this stay, the dog’s vital signs and surgical site are monitored many times during the day.

Once released from the veterinary hospital, the veterinarian may prescribe pain medication for the dog to take on a daily basis. Crate rest is often recommended for up to at least four weeks after the surgery. It is important that the dog owner keeps the surgical area clean of any debris and water. 

Veterinarians will require a two-week follow up visit after surgery, unless other problems occur after surgery that should be addressed sooner, such as inflammation where the incision was made. If any staples or sutures were used they will probably be removed during the two-week follow-up. 

It is possible that veterinarians will do more radiographs after the surgery. This is to ensure that the pediculectomy procedure is still successful. 

Some dog owners may notice a significant positive change right after the surgery. The dog’s recovery will depend on how severe the case was. 

After the surgery, the dog may need to go through physical rehabilitation. This is especially true for dogs who may not walk after the surgery is performed. Unfortunately, this happens in a few cases following the pediculectomy procedure. Some veterinarians may even recommend weight loss as well as limited activity, such as jumping, after the pediculectomy. 

Cost of Pediculectomy in Dogs

Prior to a dog’s pediculectomy surgery, they must have an examination by a veterinarian. The dog may also require an examination by a board certified veterinary orthopedic surgeon. 

Both veterinarians will require x-rays prior to completing the pediculectomy. Veterinarians often recommend blood work prior to the procedure as well. This is to ensure the dog is healthy enough to undergo the anesthesia. 

Exam and x-ray costs may vary depending on where you live. Typical veterinarian exam costs may run as high as $150. The cost of x-rays will depend on how many are needed and how advanced the imaging is. 

The typical cost of radiographs can start as low as $80. In most pediculectomy situations, more advanced radiographic imaging is needed. These advanced images can cost as much as $300 or more. 

The pediculectomy procedure itself is usually quite expensive. On the lower end, a pediculectomy may cost about $1,000. Some pediculectomy procedures may cost as much as $4,000. 

After care costs are quite possible. These costs may include additional veterinarian exams, radiographs, and pain medications. In some cases, the dog may need to undergo other procedures in addition to the pediculectomy. 

Dog Pediculectomy Considerations

There are quite a few benefits for dogs who have a pediculectomy done. The main benefit is that the surgery is less invasive than other surgeries for spinal cord decompression. Another benefit of a pediculectomy is the ability to remove the material that is protruding in the spinal cord area. 

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks for dogs who undergo a pediculectomy. These risk include pedicle material still present after surgery. Some dogs suffered from bone swelling near the surgical site. 

In most cases, the benefits of a pediculectomy outweigh the risks. In fact, most dogs who undergo this surgery are walking with a normal gait within a month. 

Pediculectomy Prevention in Dogs

The ability to prevent the need for pediculectomy depends on the underlying condition affecting your dog.

Regular exercise is one way to prevent the need for a pediculectomy. The exercise should not be strenuous. The key purpose behind the regular exercise is to keep the dog at a healthy weight. Many dogs who undergo a pediculectomy are often overweight. 

Monitoring activity is another way to prevent the need for a pediculectomy. Some dogs, such as dachshunds, are more likely to need this procedure. This is usually due to jumping off surfaces. Even a jump from the couch to the floor can cause a spinal problem.