Objective—To compare morphologic and morphometric features of the cervical vertebral column and spinal cord of Doberman Pinschers with and without clinical signs of cervical spondylomyelopathy (CSM; wobbler syndrome) detected via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Animals—16 clinically normal and 16 CSM-affected Doberman Pinschers.
Procedures—For each dog, MRI of the cervical vertebral column (in neutral and traction positions) was performed. Morphologically, MRI abnormalities were classified according to a spinal cord compression scale. Foraminal stenosis and intervertebral disk degeneration and protrusion were also recorded. Morphometric measurements of the vertebral canal and spinal cord were obtained in sagittal and transverse MRI planes.
Results—4 of 16 clinically normal and 15 of 16 CSM-affected dogs had spinal cord compression. Twelve clinically normal and all CSM-affected dogs had disk degeneration. Foraminal stenosis was detected in 11 clinically normal and 14 CSM-affected dogs. Vertebral canal and spinal cord areas were consistently smaller in CSM-affected dogs, compared with clinically normal dogs. In neutral and traction positions, the intervertebral disks of CSM-affected dogs were wider than those of clinically normal dogs but the amount of disk distraction was similar between groups.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The incidence of intervertebral disk degeneration and foraminal stenosis in clinically normal Doberman Pinschers was high; cervical spinal cord compression may be present without concurrent clinical signs. A combination of static factors (ie, a relatively stenotic vertebral canal and wider intervertebral disks) distinguished CSM-affected dogs from clinically normal dogs and appears to be a key feature in the pathogenesis of CSM.