Comparison of medical and surgical treatment for acute cervical compressive hydrated nucleus pulposus extrusion in dogs

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Although successful outcomes have been reported after medical and surgical treatment for dogs with cervical hydrated nucleus pulposus extrusion (HNPE), it is unknown which treatment option is preferred. Thirty-four dogs treated medically (n=18) or surgically (n=16) for cervical HNPE were retrospectively identified. Signalment, clinical presentation and imaging findings were compared between medically and surgically treated dogs. Medical management consisted of restricted exercise in combination with physiotherapy. Surgical treatment consisted of a ventral slot procedure. Short-term follow-up information was retrieved from re-examination visits. Long-term outcome was obtained via telephone interviews. More dogs in the surgical group demonstrated cervical hyperaesthesia on initial clinical presentation (P=0.045), otherwise there was no significant difference in signalment, clinical presentation or imaging findings between both groups. Two dogs in the medically managed group underwent surgical decompression due to an unsatisfactory response to medical management. All cases for which long-term information was available (n=30) were neurologically normal at the time of data collection. There were no significant differences for any of the short-term or long-term outcome variables between both treatment groups. This study demonstrated successful outcomes after medical or surgical treatment and suggests that both treatment modalities can be considered for dogs with cervical HNPE.

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