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Keywords:

  • Intervertebral disc degeneration;
  • Wobbler;
  • domino;
  • spinal cord;
  • compression

Spondylosis deformans and diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) are usually incidental findings and in most dogs are either asymptomatic or associated with mild clinical signs. Severe spondylosis deformans and DISH can result in complete bony fusion of consecutive vertebral segments. One of the recognised complications following vertebral fusion in human patients is the development of adjacent segment disease, which is defined as degenerative changes, most commonly degenerative intervertebral disc disease, in the mobile vertebral segment neighboring a region of complete vertebral fusion. A similar syndrome following cervical fusion in dogs has been termed the domino effect. The purpose of this retrospective study was to investigate the hypothesis that vertebral fusion occurring secondary to spondylosis deformans or DISH in dogs would protect fused intervertebral disc spaces from undergoing degeneration, but result in adjacent segment disease at neighbouring unfused intervertebral disc spaces. Eight dogs with clinical signs of thoracolumbar myelopathy, magnetic resonance imaging of the thoracolumbar vertebral column, and spondylosis deformans or DISHproducing fusion of ≥2 consecutive intervertebral disc spaces were evaluated. Vertebral fusion of ≥2 consecutive intervertebral disc spaces was correlated (P = 0.0017) with adjacent segment disease at the neighbouring unfused intervertebral disc space. Vertebral fusion appeared to protect fused intervertebral disc spaces from undergoing degeneration (P < 0.0001). Adjacent segment disease should be considered in dogs with severe spondylosis deformans or DISHoccurring in conjunction with a thoracolumbar myelopathy.