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Objective

To (1) evaluate pre- and postoperative cervical spinal cord compression (SCC) in the context of uncomplicated ventral slot (VS) decompression using computed tomographic (CT) myelography and (2) report reliability of a semiquantitative SCC score using CT myelography.

Study Design

Prospective and retrospective, clinical pilot study.

Animals

Dogs (n = 17) with single static intervertebral disc disease.

Methods

On matched pre- and postoperative transverse CT myelographic images, degree and lateralization of extradural SCC were scored by 4 blinded independent observers, followed by consensus finding. Inter- and intraobserver variability was quantified using intraclass correlation (ICC). Nonparametric tests were performed comparing pre- and postoperative SCC, correlation with neurologic status and significance of lateralization.

Results

Because of invisible contrast agent, only 13 dogs could be fully evaluated. After VS, SCC was significantly reduced whereas neurologic function significantly improved. Ten dogs had residual compression, not affecting neurologic long-term outcome. Only preoperative compression score and neurologic status 3–7 weeks postoperatively were inversely correlated. Lateralization of SCC preoperatively did not affect postsurgical compression scores. Interobserver ICC was 0.848 and intraobserver ICC was 0.984.

Conclusions

VS improves neurologic function but often fails at completely resolving extradural SCC. The proposed CT myelographic score is highly reliable, assuring consistency among and within observers.