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Lumbar hemilaminectomy for treatment of diskospondylitis in an aardvark (Orycteropus afer)

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  • 1 Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Rd, Brookfield, IL 60513.
  • | 2 Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Rd, Brookfield, IL 60513.
  • | 3 Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele St, Denver, CO 80205.
  • | 4 Veterinary Specialty Center, 1515 Busch Pkwy, Buffalo Grove, IL 60089.
  • | 5 Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Rd, Brookfield, IL 60513.
  • | 6 Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61802.

Abstract

CASE DESCRIPTION A 17-year-old sexually intact male aardvark (Orycteropus afer) was evaluated because of hind limb proprioception deficits and ataxia.

CLINICAL FINDINGS Results of examination and CT suggested a diagnosis of intervertebral disk disease and diskospondylitis at the L2–3 intervertebral space. Magnetic resonance imaging of the vertebral column also indicated intervertebral disk rupture with spinal cord compression and inflammation of the adjacent epaxial musculature

TREATMENT AND OUTCOME Hemilaminectomy was performed according to the technique described for dogs. Anatomic variations encountered intraoperatively limited the ability to completely remove the affected disk material; however, adequate decompression of the spinal cord was achieved. Microbial culture and susceptibility testing of surgical biopsy specimens yielded a multidrug-resistant Enterococcus faecalis that was treated with a 10-week course of linezolid. Intensive postoperative care required constant rate infusions for adequate sedation, analgesia, and antimicrobial treatment. Dehiscence of the surgical site occurred 3 weeks after surgery and was treated with negative pressure wound therapy. Physical rehabilitation initiated 5 days after surgery progressed from passive range of motion to the use of an underwater treadmill. Despite initial improvement, acute deterioration occurred 5.5 months after surgery. Repeated CT revealed progression of diskospondylitis, which prompted euthanasia.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE Postoperative hind limb paresis and paralysis in this species presented considerable challenges for care and rehabilitation. Patient demeanor, size, and anatomy required development of custom mechanical devices. Despite the inability to eliminate the multidrug-resistant bacterial osteomyelitis that resulted in the death of this aardvark, information gained may benefit treatment of subsequent patients.

Abstract

CASE DESCRIPTION A 17-year-old sexually intact male aardvark (Orycteropus afer) was evaluated because of hind limb proprioception deficits and ataxia.

CLINICAL FINDINGS Results of examination and CT suggested a diagnosis of intervertebral disk disease and diskospondylitis at the L2–3 intervertebral space. Magnetic resonance imaging of the vertebral column also indicated intervertebral disk rupture with spinal cord compression and inflammation of the adjacent epaxial musculature

TREATMENT AND OUTCOME Hemilaminectomy was performed according to the technique described for dogs. Anatomic variations encountered intraoperatively limited the ability to completely remove the affected disk material; however, adequate decompression of the spinal cord was achieved. Microbial culture and susceptibility testing of surgical biopsy specimens yielded a multidrug-resistant Enterococcus faecalis that was treated with a 10-week course of linezolid. Intensive postoperative care required constant rate infusions for adequate sedation, analgesia, and antimicrobial treatment. Dehiscence of the surgical site occurred 3 weeks after surgery and was treated with negative pressure wound therapy. Physical rehabilitation initiated 5 days after surgery progressed from passive range of motion to the use of an underwater treadmill. Despite initial improvement, acute deterioration occurred 5.5 months after surgery. Repeated CT revealed progression of diskospondylitis, which prompted euthanasia.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE Postoperative hind limb paresis and paralysis in this species presented considerable challenges for care and rehabilitation. Patient demeanor, size, and anatomy required development of custom mechanical devices. Despite the inability to eliminate the multidrug-resistant bacterial osteomyelitis that resulted in the death of this aardvark, information gained may benefit treatment of subsequent patients.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Video s1 (MP4 9.54 mb)
    • Supplementary Video s2 (MP4 3.31 mb)
    • Supplementary Video s3 (MP4 27.0 mb)
    • Supplementary Video s4 (MP4 3.30 mb)

Contributor Notes

Dr. Nevitt's present address is San Diego Zoo, 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101.

Address correspondence to Dr. Nevitt (bnevitt@sandiegozoo.org).