To evaluate progression of clinical signs and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in dogs with cervical spondylomyelopathy (wobbler syndrome) treated medically or surgically.
Prospective cohort study.
12 Doberman Pinschers.
Neurologic examinations and MRI were performed before medical (n = 9) or surgical treatment (ventral slot, 3) and a minimum of 12 months later.
Mean follow-up time was 14.5 months. Clinically, 2 dogs improved after surgical treatment and 5 improved after medical treatment. Magnetic resonance imaging of surgically treated dogs revealed adequate spinal cord decompression. Spinal cord signal changes were seen in 2 dogs before surgery, both of which had new signal changes at the same and adjacent sites during follow-up examination. One dog treated surgically developed 3 new areas of spinal cord compression. In the medically treated dogs, the severity of spinal cord compression at the time of follow-up examination was unchanged in 4 dogs, worse in 2 dogs, and improved in 3 dogs, but spinal cord atrophy was observed on transverse images. Four medically treated dogs had changes in spinal cord signal initially, but none developed new signal changes or compressions.
Medical and surgical treatment improved or stabilized the clinical condition of most dogs. Surgical treatment appeared to hasten the development of additional areas of spinal cord compression and lesions in dogs with preoperative cord changes; however, the clinical importance of these changes was not determined. The progression of pathologic MRI abnormalities was notably less in medically treated dogs, compared with surgically treated dogs.