Objective—To develop and compare the reliability of
2 methods of scoring pelvic limb gait in dogs recovering
from thoracolumbar spinal cord injuries and to use
this scoring system to determine the rate and level of
functional recovery of dogs with acute thoracolumbar
intervertebral disk herniations.
Animals—46 dogs with spinal cord injuries resulting
from intervertebral disk herniations.
Procedure—Dogs' gaits were videotaped at different
time intervals after injury. In phase 1 of the study, the
stages of recovery of pelvic limb function were identified,
and a numeric scoring system was devised to
reflect that recovery. In phase 2, pelvic limb gait was
scored by different observers, using a numeric and a
visual analog scale. Intra- and interobserver coefficients
of variability of both methods were compared.
In phase 3, pelvic limb function was scored, using the
numeric scale at various intervals after acute thoracolumbar
Results—The numeric scale was significantly more
reliable than the visual analog scale when both intraand
interobserver coefficients of variability were evaluated.
Dogs that were paraplegic with no deep pain
sensation recovered at different rates during the first
3 months, whereas dogs that were paraplegic with
deep pain sensation typically recovered within 1
month of injury.
Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Pelvic limb gait of dogs recovering
from thoracolumbar spinal cord injuries can be reliably
quantified, using a numeric scale. This scale will facilitate
the performance of clinical trials aimed at
improving the outcome of acute spinal cord injuries.
(Am J Vet Res 2001;62:1624–1628)
Case Description—2 full-sibling male German Shorthaired Pointer (GSHP) puppies (dogs 1 and 2) with X-linked muscular dystrophy and deletion of the dystrophin gene (gene symbol, DMD) each had poor growth, skeletal muscle atrophy, pelvic limb weakness, episodic collapse, and episodes of coughing.
Clinical Findings—Initial examination revealed stunted growth, brachygnathism, trismus, and diffuse neuromuscular signs in each puppy; clinical signs were more severe in dog 2 than in dog 1. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed a lack of dystrophin protein in both dogs. During the next 3 years, each dog developed hyperinflation of the lungs, hypertrophy of the cervical musculature, and hypertrophy of the lateral head of the triceps brachii muscle.
Treatment and Outcome—Monitoring and supportive care were provided at follow-up visits during an approximately 7-year period. No other specific treatment was provided. Neuromuscular signs in both dogs remained stable after 3 years of age, with dog 2 consistently more severely affected than dog 1. The dogs had multiple episodes of aspiration pneumonia; dogs 1 and 2 were euthanatized at 84 and 93 months of age, respectively.
Clinical Relevance—The clinical course of disease in these dogs was monitored for a longer period than has been monitored in previous reports of dystrophin-deficient dogs. The clinical progression of muscular dystrophy in the 2 GSHPs was compared with that for other breeds and species with dystrophin-deficient conditions, and the potential basis for the phenotypic variation observed between these littermates, along with potential therapeutic ramifications for dogs and humans, was evaluated.