Lumbo-Sacral disease is usually diagnosed as Hip Dysplasia because not all Veterinarians
know how to diagnose it properly.
A lot of breeds of dogs have trouble with their hind end, especially when
they get older. This is usually passed-off and thought of as hip dysplasia, when
in all actuality, it is Lumbo-Sacral Disease.
Lumbo-Sacral Disease, otherwise known as Cauda Equina Syndrome, is a problem
with the dogs lower spine moving. With this disease, the sacrum moves as the dog
extends its hind legs, as when jumping and standing on its hind legs. When the sacrum
moves, it pinches down on the dog’s spinal cord, (spinal compression) and causes
acute pain and over time it causes chronic pain. Dogs with Lumbo-Sacral Disease will
refuse to jump up into the car, etc. and refuse to go up the stairs. Lumbo-Sacral
Disease is prominent in many breeds, but especially German Shepherd Dogs and Labrador
To diagnose Lumbo-Sacral disease, a Standard L-S (Lumbo-Sacral) radiograph in a Standing
and Extended Position, and it will show the sacrum’s movement. Further diagnostics
for surgical candidates, is a Myelogram, where Contrast is injected along the spinal
column and a series of radiographs are repeated. The Contrast is clearly seen traveling
down the spinal column until is reaches the end. Abnormalities show up as the Contrast
abruptly stops at an area of stenosis (narrowing) along the spinal cord. Flexed
and extended views that are ‘coned in’, or specified, on the L-S junction show the
discrepancy in the spine.
Laminectomies are permanent solutions to Lumbo-Sacral Disease and can be performed
to alleviate the pain by removing the portion of the top of the spine where it is
compressing the spinal cord. This procedure eliminates the “roof” of the spine, which
is what is compressing onto the spinal cord. Laminectomies, and Hemi-Laminectomies
are done by Board Certified Surgeons or Board Certified Neurologists and cost an
average of $3500 to $4500.
This is a Lumbar Radiograph Standing Position. The spine has a severe defect at
the L-S junction (red circle). The top of the sacrum (arrow #1) is angled down, thus
compressing on the spinal cord. Follow it left, notice it doesn’t match up with the
spinal column. The Highlighted Area is Calcified Bone, (arrow #2) which proves that
there is movement in the sacrum. Calcified Bone is the body trying to add bone to
stop the movement.
This is a Lumbar Model showing Lumbo-Sacral Spinal Compression.
In my experiences, over the past few decades, the most Laminectomies that I have
assisted with were on German Shepherd Dogs and Labrador Retrievers.