Nasca classification of hemivertebra in five dogs
© The Author(s) 2005
Published: 1 December 2005
Five dogs, four small mixed breed and a Doberman Pinscher, presented in our clinic with hemivertebra. Complete physical, radiological and neurological examinations were done and the spinal deformities were characterized in accord with the Nasca classification used in human medicine. Two dogs had multiple hemivertebrae (round, oval or wedge-shaped: Type 3) in the thoracic region; one dog had an individual surplus half vertebral body (Type 1) plus a wedge-shaped hemivertebra (Type 2b) in the lumbar region; one dog had multiple hemivertebrae which were fused on one side (Type 4a) in the thoracic region; and one dog had a wedge-shaped hemivertebra (Type 2a) in the cervical region.
KeywordsDog Vertebral anomaly Hemivertebra Nasca classification
Congenital spinal deformities in companion animals are reported as hereditary disorders [12, 5, 9, 4, 10]. Because of the importance of the intersegmental artery in the formation of the definitive vertebral body anlage, it may be concluded that congenital vertebral malformations are likely to occur during the stage of segmentation and to be related to the abnormal distribution of the intersegmental arteries . Congenital spinal deformity manifests itself differently depending on localization and the involvement of neural structures; in general, it tends to be progressive in nature .
In human medicine, the Nasca classification of spinal deformity is used for determining prognosis and treatment models of the condition [11, 2]. In this communication, we used the Nasca system to classify five cases of hemivertebra that were presented at our clinic.
Details of the five cases of hemivertebra in dogs
T5 - T9
Multiple hemivertebra Type 3
T3 - T9
Multiple hemivertebrae Type 3
C7 - T7
Multiple hemivertebra Type 4a
L2 - L3
L3 hemivertebra Type 1
L2 hemivertebra Type 2b
Wedge-shaped vertebra Type 2a
Progressive hindlimb weakness, muscle atrophy and paraparesis or paraplegia were reported concurrently in dogs 1, 2 and 4. In dogs 1, 2, 3 kyphosis, lordosis and scoliosis at thoracic vertebra were apparent on physical examination. In dog 4 there was no apparent physical abnormality. Dogs 1 and 4 had hindlimb ataxia, conscious proprioceptive deficit and incoordination. Dog 2 had upper motor neuron deficits and inability to stand on its hindlimbs. Dogs 3 and 5 exhibited non-ambulatory tetraparesis.
The spinal deformity was seen in all dogs in plain lateral radiographs; however, superposition of structures make interpretation difficult in ventrodorsal radiographs. In each case, the disorder was classified according to the Nasca scheme. Two dogs had multiple hemivertebrae (round, oval or wedge-shaped: Type 3) in the thoracic region; one dog had an individual surplus half vertebral body (Type 1) plus a wedge-shaped hemivertebra (Type 2b) in the lumbar region; one dog had multiple hemivertebrae which were fused on one side (Type 4a) in the thoracic region; and one dog had a wedge-shape hemivertebra (Type 2a) in the cervical region.
Congenital spinal deformity has been reported in dogs, horses, and a calf [5, 9, 4, 10]. Hemivertebra has been seen most commonly in screw-tailed breeds (pugs, bulldogs and Boston terriers), in which it is responsible for the kink in the tail. In this small series the breed dispersion did not conform to that pattern, in that four of the five dogs were of mixed parentage, unrelated to screw-tailed breeds.
In humans, mutations in genes required for the intrinsic biochemical regulation of segmentation of the vertebral column have been implicated in spinal deformities . In addition, the roles of some environmental factors have been studied experimentally by medical authors [7, 3, 6, 14]. There was nothing in the history of the five dogs in the present series that pointed to particular genetic or environmental factors that might have caused the anomalies or predisposed the subjects to them.
In humans, the description of spinal deformity was classified by Nasca and his colleagues and that classification has been used for determining prognosis and, also, treatment models of scoliosis [11, 2]. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report to use the Nasca classification in a study of congenital spinal deformity in the dog.
Contrary to previous literature, which reported that only a single vertebra was involved in most cases [4, 15], four of the five cases in this series had multiple spinal deformities: in the thoracic region in three dogs, in lumbar vertebrae in one dog.
Caudal cervical vertebral instability is well known in the dog . The Doberman Pinscher (case 5) had a wedge-shaped cervical vertebra that induced instability and compression on the spinal cord. As far as we know, this is the first report implicating cervical hemivertebra as a cause of caudal cervical vertebral instability in the dog.
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