OBJECTIVE To evaluate and compare morphological characteristics of the dens in atlantoaxial instability (AAI)-predisposed toy-breed dogs (TBDs) with and without AAI and non–AAI-predisposed healthy Beagles.
ANIMALS 80 AAI-affected and 40 nonaffected TBDs and 40 Beagles.
PROCEDURES Each dog underwent CT examination of the cervical vertebral column. On median 3-D multiplanar reconstruction images, the dens angle (DA) was measured as were the lengths of the dens and the body of the axis; the dens-to-axis length ratio (ratio of the dens length to the axis body length [DALR]) was calculated. Data were compared among dog groups.
RESULTS The DALR in nonaffected TBDs and Beagles did not differ significantly. The mean DALR for AAI-affected TBDs was significantly lower than that for nonaffected TBDs. The mean DA of AAI-affected TBDs was significantly greater than that of Beagles and nonaffected TBDs.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that a low DALR might be associated with a high probability of dens abnormalities in TBDs. Additionally, dens length in AAI-affected TBDs appeared to be smaller than that in non–AAI-affected TBDs, given the low DALR in AAI-affected TBDs. Further investigations to determine reference ranges of the DA and DALR and the potential usefulness of those variables as diagnostic markers for AAI in TBDs are warranted.