Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Spina bifida

Synonym(s): Spina bifida occulta

Contributor(s): Rodney Bagley

Introduction

  • Rare congenital abnormality. Seen more often in the English Bulldog and the Beagle.
  • Cause: failure of halves of dorsal spinous processes to fuse.
  • May be concurrent with myelodysplasia, abnormal position of central grey matter, anomalies of dorsal and ventral horns.
  • Signs: noticed when puppy begins to walk; pelvic limb ataxia and paresis, fecal and urinary incontinence, dimpling of skin over site of defect.
  • Treatment: surgical repair in some cases.
  • Prognosis: poor to guarded if severe neurological signs. Death is uncommon unless abnormality in cervical area.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Hereditary in Bulldogs?.

Predisposing factors

General
  • Animals with associated vertebral defects may be at an increased risk.
  • This is most often seen in Bulldogs.

Pathophysiology

  • Failure of the vertebral arch to form dorsal to the spinal cord:
    • If many adjacent vertebrae are affected this is termedrachischisis.
    • If the skin and subcutaneous tissues cover the vertebral defect this is termedspina bifida occulta.
    • This defect may also be associated with abnormal formation of the spinal cord due to faulty development of neuronal and supporting cells or abnormalities in migration of differentiating cells.
  • In some instances, the meninges and spinal cord may protrude through the vertebral defect.
  • Failure of halves of dorsal spinous processes (usually lumbar) to fuse → protrusion of spinal meninges or spinal cord → additional associated spinal anomalies → failure of spinal reflexes to establish → variably impaired neurological function → variable degree of spinal disability.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Bailey C S & Morgan J P (1992) Congenital spinal malformations. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 22 (4), 985-1015 PubMed.
  • Fingeroth J M et al (1989) Neuroradiographic diagnosis repair of tethered cord syndrome in an English bulldog with spina bifida and myeloschisis. JAVMA 194 (9), 1300-1302 PubMed.
  • Clayton H M & Boyd J S (1983) Spina bifida in a German shepherd puppy. Vet Rec 112 (1), 13-15 PubMed.
  • Deforest M E & Basrur P K (1979) Malformations and the Manx syndrome in cats. Can Vet J 20 (11), 304-314 PubMed.
  • Leipold H W, Huston K, Blauch B & Guffy M M (1974) Congenital defects of the caudal vertebral column and spinal cord of Manx cats. JAVMA 164 (5), 520-523 PubMed.
  • McGrath J T (1965) Spinal dysraphism in the dog. Pathologia Veterinaria Suppl 2, 1-36 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Noden D M & De Lahunta A (1985)The Embryology of Domestic Animals.Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, pp 152-153.


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