Fractures and/or luxations of the vertebral column can occur
secondary to severe trauma or due to an underlying disease that
weakens the bones. Any breed or age of pet is susceptible to
trauma. When a fracture is suspected or when acute severe trauma
has occurred care should be taken to prevent unnecessary movement
of the affected area (back or neck) to mitigate the chance of
making the injury worse. Once appropriate emergency care has been
administered diagnostic tests are performed to determine whether a
fracture has occurred. Typically, radiographs are taken of the
spine as a screening tool for obvious vertebral column injury.
Further characterization of the fracture is done via advanced
imaging (CT or MRI or both) to allow for treatment planning and to
screen for other injuries not visible on radiographs alone.
Depending on the severity of the fracture and clinical situation,
medical or surgical treatment may be done. For fractures considered
unstable or those causing spinal cord compression surgery can be
beneficial. Recovery rates with treatment depend on the severity of
spinal cord injury. Pets presented to TAMU for vertebral column
injury may benefit from the expertise provided by specialists from
various disciplines including radiology, neurology, surgery, and
The dog in this figure was diagnosed with fracture of the C2
vertebra after being struck by a car (arrow). Notice the
displacement of C2. The vertebral column was realigned and
stabilized using a unique spinal implant.