Rosie, a 9-month-old 7kg Cavalier pup, broke her back playing in the garden. Her 5th lumber vertebra fractured, and the 5th and 6th lumbar vertebrae dislocated. The resulting nerve root entrapment resulted in severe pain and hind limb paresis. She was seen by the PDSA, who diagnosed the problem with xrays.
They contacted us at West Midlands Referrals, and we said we could take her as soon as the owner could get her to us. We asked them to drive slowly and carefully … the last thing a dog with a broken back needs is rocking around. She was transferred to us late on Friday for surgery.
This all happened just as the Advent calendars were coming out. The 8-year-old child in the family said that they didn’t want any presents for Christmas … they just wanted Santa to make Rosie better … yeah, that brings a lump in the throat, doesn’t it?
All went well, and screws and bone cement were placed in Rosie’s spine to stabilise and realign it. Holes were drilled in the vertebrae. The screw holes needed to cross with their opposite number in the vertebral body underneath the spinal canal containing the spinal cord. These holes needed carefully angling to ensure that the implants purchased enough bone; to ensure that the spinal cord was not inadvertently injured; to ensure that major blood vessels which sit underneath the lumbar spine were not inadvertently injured; and to ensure that the pairs of screws did not conflict with each other.
She was comfy post-op and could stand with a bit of help. She was so comfortable the next day that we were able to discharge her from our practice in Burton-Upon-Trent to the owners’ care with medication. She will need the support of her family for her rehabilitation in the coming weeks, but the prognosis is excellent.
Where else could you get a spine fracture accepted as an immediate emergency referral and accurately fixed for £1500 “all-in” on a Friday evening and have the dog home on the following day??!! Good old Santa …
Two weeks later, she moved very well on the right hind limb. The left hind limb was still a little “knuckly”, but it was getting there. She was peeing well on her own and was very contented and comfortable. We planned to see her back in the New Year, but it all looked good.
Unfortunately, the story had a sad ending; Rosie suffered another fracture, this time involving her femur, and the owners sadly decided to have her euthanased.
30th November 2013