Tension band stabilization of fractures and luxations of the thoracolumbar vertebrae in dogs and cats: 38 cases (1993–2002)

Katja Voss Clinic for Small Animal Surgery, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

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Pierre M. Montavon Clinic for Small Animal Surgery, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine the outcome of dogs and cats in which a tension band technique was used to stabilize traumatic fractures and luxations of the thoracolumbar vertebrae.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—38 client-owned animals (22 dogs and 16 cats) weighing between 1.4 and 45 kg (3 and 99 lb).

Procedure—Medical records of cats and dogs that underwent tension band stabilization of thoracolumbar fractures and luxations at the University of Zurich between 1993 and 2002 were reviewed. The stabilization technique was a modification of a spinal stapling technique with a figure 8 hemicerclage wire placed in a tension band fashion across the lesion. Neurologic status, lesion location and type, and concomitant traumatic injuries were assessed from the medical records and preoperative radiographs. Clinical outcome and complications were determined through follow-up examinations or telephone conversations with the owners.

Results—Complete or satisfactory neurologic recovery was achieved in 30 (79%) patients. Seven patients were euthanatized (6 owing to poor neurologic recovery and 1 owing to implant failure), and 1 dog was managed at home despite paraplegia. Clinically, only 4 patients (11%) had evidence of implant or fixation failure; all were dogs weighing > 16 kg (35 lb).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that the tension band technique may be appropriate for stabilization of fractures and luxations of the thoracolumbar vertebrae in cats and small- or medium- sized dogs. In larger dogs, fixation strength may be insufficient to stabilize certain fracture types and ancillary external or internal fixation methods may be needed. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:78–83)

Abstract

Objective—To determine the outcome of dogs and cats in which a tension band technique was used to stabilize traumatic fractures and luxations of the thoracolumbar vertebrae.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—38 client-owned animals (22 dogs and 16 cats) weighing between 1.4 and 45 kg (3 and 99 lb).

Procedure—Medical records of cats and dogs that underwent tension band stabilization of thoracolumbar fractures and luxations at the University of Zurich between 1993 and 2002 were reviewed. The stabilization technique was a modification of a spinal stapling technique with a figure 8 hemicerclage wire placed in a tension band fashion across the lesion. Neurologic status, lesion location and type, and concomitant traumatic injuries were assessed from the medical records and preoperative radiographs. Clinical outcome and complications were determined through follow-up examinations or telephone conversations with the owners.

Results—Complete or satisfactory neurologic recovery was achieved in 30 (79%) patients. Seven patients were euthanatized (6 owing to poor neurologic recovery and 1 owing to implant failure), and 1 dog was managed at home despite paraplegia. Clinically, only 4 patients (11%) had evidence of implant or fixation failure; all were dogs weighing > 16 kg (35 lb).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that the tension band technique may be appropriate for stabilization of fractures and luxations of the thoracolumbar vertebrae in cats and small- or medium- sized dogs. In larger dogs, fixation strength may be insufficient to stabilize certain fracture types and ancillary external or internal fixation methods may be needed. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:78–83)

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