Dynamic Lumbosacral Magnetic Resonance Imaging in a Dog with Tethered Cord Syndrome with a Tight Filum Terminale

De Decker, S and Watts, V and Neilson, D M (2017) Dynamic Lumbosacral Magnetic Resonance Imaging in a Dog with Tethered Cord Syndrome with a Tight Filum Terminale. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 4 (134).

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Abstract

A 1-year and 11-month- old English Cocker Spaniel was evaluated for clinical signs of progressive right pelvic limb lameness and urinary incontinence. Neurological examination was suggestive of a lesion localized to the L4–S3 spinal cord segments. No abnormalities were seen on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed in the dog in dorsal recumbency and the hips in a neutral position and the conus medullaris ended halfway the vertebral body of L7. An MRI of the hips in extended and flexed positions demonstrated minimal displacement of the conus medullaris in the cranial and caudal directions, respectively. Similar to the images in neutral position, the conus medullaris ended halfway the vertebral body of L7 in both the extended and flexed positions. In comparison, an MRI of the hips in neutral, extended, and flexed positions performed in another English Cocker Spaniel revealed obvious cranial displacement of the conus medullaris with the hips in extension and caudal displacement with hips in flexion. A standard dorsal lumbosacral laminectomy was performed. Visual inspection of the vertebral canal revealed excessive caudal traction on the conus medullaris. After sectioning the distal aspect of the filum terminale, the conus medullaris regained a more cranial position. A neurological examination 4 weeks after surgery revealed clinical improvement. Neurological examinations at 2, 4, 7, and 12 months after surgery did not reveal any abnormalities, and the dog was considered to be clinically normal. Tethered cord syndrome with a tight filum terminale is a very rare congenital anomaly and is characterized by an abnormally short and inelastic filum terminale. Therefore, this disorder is associated with abnormal caudal traction on the spinal cord and decreased physiological craniocaudal movements of the neural structures within the vertebral canal. Although further studies are necessary to evaluate and quantify physiological craniocaudal movement of the spinal cord and conus medullaris in neurologically normal dogs, the results of this report suggest further exploration of dynamic MRI to demonstrate decreased craniocaudal displacement of the conus medullaris in dogs with tethered cord syndrome with a tight filum terminale.