OBJECTIVE: To evaluate and compare perioperative morbidity and mortality in dogs undergoing cervical and thoracolumbar spinal surgery.
STUDY DESIGN: Prospective case series.
ANIMALS: 157 dogs undergoing cervical or thoracolumbar spinal surgery.
METHODS: Data were collected sequentially on canine cases presented from the Neurology Section of the North Carolina State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital for anesthesia and surgery for cervical spinal cord disease. Simultaneously, data were collected on all thoracolumbar spinal surgery cases during the same time period. Data included signalment, drugs administered, surgical approach, disease process, cardiac arrhythmias during anesthesia, and outcome.
RESULTS: Data were collected from 164 surgical events in 157 dogs. There were 52 cervical approaches; four dorsal and 48 ventral. All thoracolumbar surgeries were approached dorsolaterally. Four dogs 4/52 (7.6%) undergoing a cervical approach did not survive to discharge. Two dogs (2/8; 25%) underwent atlanto-axial (AA) stabilization and suffered cardiovascular arrest and two dogs (2/38; 5.2%) undergoing cervical ventral slot procedures were euthanized following anesthesia and surgery due to signs of aspiration pneumonia. All dogs undergoing thoracolumbar surgery survived until discharge (112/112). Mortality in dogs undergoing cervical spinal surgery was greater compared with dogs undergoing thoracolumbar spinal surgery (p = 0.009), however, in dogs undergoing decompressive disc surgery, intraoperative death rates were not different between dogs undergoing a cervical compared with thoracolumbar approaches (p = 0.32) nor was there a significant difference in overall mortality (p = 0.07).
CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Overall, dogs undergoing cervical spinal surgery were less likely to survive until discharge compared with dogs undergoing thoracolumbar spinal surgery. Mortality in dogs undergoing cervical intervertebral disc decompression surgery was no different than for dogs undergoing thoracolumbar intervertebral disc decompression surgery. However, dogs undergoing cervical intervertebral disc decompression surgery should be considered at risk for aspiration pneumonia.
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