Spinal Cord Injuries in Dogs Part II: Standards of Care, Prognosis and New Perspectives

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Severe spinal cord injuries (SCI), causing physical handicaps and accompanied by many serious complications, remains one of the most challenging problems in both, human and veterinary health care practices. The central nervous system in mammals does not regenerate, so the neurological deficits in a dog following SCI persists for the rest of its life and the affected animals display an image of permanent suffering. Diagnostics are based on: neurological examination, plain x-rays of vertebral column, x-rays of the vertebral column following intrathecal administration of a water-soluble contrast medium (myelography), x-rays of the vertebral column following epidural administration of a contrast medium (epidurography), computed tomography (CT) and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Currently, only limited therapeutic measures are available for the dogs with SCIs. They include: the administration of methylprednisolone sodium succinate (MPSS) during the acute stage; early spinal cord decompression; stabilisation of vertebral fractures or luxations; prevention and treatment of complications, and expert rehabilitation. Together with the progress in the understanding of pathophysiologic events occurring after SCI, different therapeutic strategies have been instituted, including the local delivery of MPSS, the utilisation of novel pharmacological agents, hypothermia, and stem/precursor cell transplantation have all been tested in the experimental models and preclinical trials with promising results. The aim of this review is the presentation of the generally accepted methods of diagnostics and management of dogs with SCIs, as well as to discuss new therapeutic modalities. The research strategy involved a PubMed, Medline (Ovid), Embase (Ovid) and ISI Web of Science literature search from January 2001 to December 2017 using the term “spinal cord injury”, in the English language literature; also references from selected papers were scanned and relevant articles included.

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