OBJECTIVE To investigate associations between recovery of locomotion and putative prognostic factors in dogs with loss of deep pain perception in the pelvic limbs caused by intervertebral disk herniation (IVDH).
DESIGN Prospective cohort study.
ANIMALS 78 client-owned dogs evaluated for IVDH that underwent spinal decompression surgery.
PROCEDURES Dogs with complete loss of deep pain perception in the pelvic limbs and tail underwent routine examinations, advanced imaging, and spinal decompression surgery in accordance with standards of practice and owner consent. For each dog, information was prospectively collected on duration of clinical signs prior to onset of paraplegia; delay between onset of paraplegia and initial referral evaluation; date of recovery of locomotion, death, or euthanasia (3-month follow-up period); and whether dogs had received corticosteroid drugs before surgery. Severity of spinal cord compression at the lesion epicenter was measured via CT or MRI.
RESULTS 45 of 78 (58%) of dogs recovered the ability to ambulate independently within 3 months after spinal decompression surgery. No evidence of prognostic value was identified for any of the investigated factors; importantly, a greater delay between onset of paraplegia and referral evaluation was not associated with a poorer prognosis.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE In this group of dogs with IVDH, immediacy of surgical treatment had no apparent association with outcome. The prognosis for recovery may instead be strongly influenced by the precise nature of the initiating injury.