Case: Spinal surgery for lumbar intervertebral disc disease

An 8 year old male border collie presented with ever worsening use of his back legs. This had progressed over a few weeks. A needle was inserted into the fluid sac that surrounded his spinal cord just in front of his pelvis. A liquid that shows up as white on X-rays was injected into this fluid and the fluid spread along the spine, highlighting the problem area. It showed that there was a large compression on the right hand side of the spinal cord between the 3rd and the 4th lumbar vertebrae. The compression extended above the spinal cord as well as to the side of it. A power bur was used to create a window in the side of the bones of the spinal column adjacent to the compression. This “hemilaminectomy” allowed large amounts of material from a ruptured intervertebral disc to be retrieved. The operation was quick, and there was enough of the X-ray contrast agent still in the spinal fluid after the operation to demonstrate that the spinal cord had been fully decompressed. The dog was discharged the next day, walking with just a small amount of wobbliness.  He made a full neurological recovery over the next few weeks.