Lumbo-Sacral Disease


    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 Retrievers.     

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.



Lumbo-Sacral Disease


Spinal Column





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.