• ataxia;
  • cervical vertebral malformation;
  • sagittal diameters;
  • radiography

Cervical vertebral malformation is one of the most common causes of ataxia in horses. The most important factor in the diagnosis of cervical vertebral malformation is the identification of cervical vertebral canal stenosis, but published data for minimum sagittal diameter ratios in adult horses are only available for C4–C7 intravertebral sites. Intra- and intervertebral sagittal diameter ratios at C2–C7 were evaluated in 26 ataxic horses, for which a complete clinical and neuropathological evaluation was undertaken. Eight of these horses were diagnosed with cervical vertebral malformation. In these horses the majority of compressive lesions were intervertebral. The mean sagittal diameter ratios of horses with cervical vertebral malformation were significantly smaller than those of horses without cervical vertebral malformation, and for an individual horse in our study, the site with the smallest intervertebral sagittal diameter ratio was always the site at which the spinal cord was compressed. Mean sagittal diameter ratio intravertebral site measurements of horses with cervical vertebral malformation were smaller than those of horses without cervical vertebral malformation; however, the site of compression could not be predicted from the data. For our dataset, horses with a sagittal diameter ratio of ≤0.485 at any inter- or intravertebral site could be correctly classified as having cervical vertebral malformation, and sagittal diameter ratio measurements were an effective tool to identify at least one site of compression in an individual case.