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Diagnosis of lumbosacral diskospondylosis in a bucking bull assisted by high-definition thermal and nuclear scintigraphic imaging

Marc CaldwellJohn Thomas Vaughn Large Animal Teaching Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Thomas PasslerJohn Thomas Vaughn Large Animal Teaching Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Ram C. PurohitJohn Thomas Vaughn Large Animal Teaching Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine.

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David PascoeSchool of Kinesiology, College of Education, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849.

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Dwight F. WolfeJohn Thomas Vaughn Large Animal Teaching Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Abstract

CASE DESCRIPTION An 8-year-old Brahman-cross bull was evaluated for left hind limb lameness of 2 months' duration. The lameness was first noticed during a rodeo bucking performance, immediately after the bull appeared to land inappropriately on the affected limb.

CLINICAL FINDINGS Physical examination findings revealed left hind limb lameness, ataxia, and left-sided epaxial muscle atrophy. Palpation per rectum along the lumbar portion of the vertebral column revealed evidence of exostosis of the ventral aspect. High-definition infrared thermal imaging revealed a pattern of reduced skin temperature in the area of the left lumbar and gluteal regions suggestive of a disruption in the sympathetic control of peripheral blood flow. Nuclear scintigraphy revealed a focal area of increased radioisotope uptake on the left ventrolateral aspect of the L2–3 intervertebral joint. A presumptive diagnosis of ventrolateral vertebral spondylosis resulting in spinal nerve impingement was made.

TREATMENT AND OUTCOME 200 mg of methylprednisolone was epidurally injected at the site of the lesion, and treatment with polysulfated glycosaminoglycans was initiated (500 mg, IM, every 4 days for 7 treatments, then monthly thereafter). The lameness and ataxia observed in the left hind limb resolved within 1 week after treatment began. Subsequently, the bull was discharged from the hospital and was used successfully for semen collection and live-cover breeding.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE Use of thermography for the bull of this report provided additional insight into neurovascular physiologic function that classical imaging modalities are unable to provide and, when combined with nuclear scintigraphy, aided in identifying the most critical lesion in a complex clinical case.

Abstract

CASE DESCRIPTION An 8-year-old Brahman-cross bull was evaluated for left hind limb lameness of 2 months' duration. The lameness was first noticed during a rodeo bucking performance, immediately after the bull appeared to land inappropriately on the affected limb.

CLINICAL FINDINGS Physical examination findings revealed left hind limb lameness, ataxia, and left-sided epaxial muscle atrophy. Palpation per rectum along the lumbar portion of the vertebral column revealed evidence of exostosis of the ventral aspect. High-definition infrared thermal imaging revealed a pattern of reduced skin temperature in the area of the left lumbar and gluteal regions suggestive of a disruption in the sympathetic control of peripheral blood flow. Nuclear scintigraphy revealed a focal area of increased radioisotope uptake on the left ventrolateral aspect of the L2–3 intervertebral joint. A presumptive diagnosis of ventrolateral vertebral spondylosis resulting in spinal nerve impingement was made.

TREATMENT AND OUTCOME 200 mg of methylprednisolone was epidurally injected at the site of the lesion, and treatment with polysulfated glycosaminoglycans was initiated (500 mg, IM, every 4 days for 7 treatments, then monthly thereafter). The lameness and ataxia observed in the left hind limb resolved within 1 week after treatment began. Subsequently, the bull was discharged from the hospital and was used successfully for semen collection and live-cover breeding.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE Use of thermography for the bull of this report provided additional insight into neurovascular physiologic function that classical imaging modalities are unable to provide and, when combined with nuclear scintigraphy, aided in identifying the most critical lesion in a complex clinical case.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Caldwell's present address is Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

Address correspondence to Dr. Caldwell (mcaldwell@utk.edu).