A Comparison of Manual and Power-Assisted Thoracolumbar Disc Fenestration in Dogs


Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1.


Thoracolumbar disc fenestration was performed in eight canine cadavers. A hole was cut in the anulus fibrosus with a scalpel in four dogs, and with a high speed drill and burr in four dogs. A curette was used to remove as much of the nucleus pulposus as possible. Sixty-five percent of the nucleus pulposus was removed with the power-assisted technique and 41 % was removed by manual fenestration. Manual and power-assisted disc fenestration were performed on alternate intervertebral discs from T11–12 to L5–6 in four dogs. Six months after surgery, results of high-detail radiographic and histologic evaluation of the vertebral bodies and discs showed minimal difference in the sequelae of the two techniques. A retrospective medical records analysis and follow-up of 60 clinical cases treated with prophylactic, powerassisted disc fenestration failed to identify any cases with postoperative recurrence of neurologic deficits. Ten percent of the dogs had periodic back pain of unknown etiology, without other signs of intervertebral disc disease. The findings of this study indicate that power-assisted disc fenestration permits more complete evacuation of the nucleus than manual fenestration, causes no more postoperative complications, and results in a low recurrence rate of neurologic deficits.