Functional adaptations of facet geometry in the canine thoracolumbar and lumbar spine (Th10-L6).Ann Anat. 2002 Jul; 184(4):379-85.AA
The shape, size and transverse distance between contralateral caudal articular processes of caudal thoracic and lumbar vertebrae were evaluated in a sample of 140 macerated canine spines to contribute to the understanding of the development of vertebral misalignment. Dogs were grouped as large, chondrodystrophic, and small breeds. In large dogs, caudal articular surfaces were adapted to higher body-weight by the presence of larger articular surfaces. Additionally, caudal articular surfaces not only covered the lateral, but also the ventral (i.e. ventral facet) and/or caudal aspects (i.e. caudal facet) of the caudal articular processes. Ventral facets, which increase loading capacity of the zygapophyseal joints in normally aligned vertebrae, were more frequently observed in large breeds (p < 0.001) than in small and chondrodystrophic breeds. With some exceptions, caudal facets primarily were present in large dogs, especially at the vertebral levels L3-L5. Their formation is induced by extension of the normal lykphotic thoracic and lumbar spine causing lumbar lordosis and denotes loss in elasticity of the bow-and-string-construction of the trunk. Because ventral and caudal facets are consistent with convexity of the caudal articular surfaces, which to a great degree was noted to result in formation of ball-and-socket joints, spinal stability is supposed to be decreased under such conditions.