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Wobbler Syndrome(Cervical Vertebral Instability) in dogs


"Wobbler syndrome" is a term used to describe disorders involving compression of the cervical spinal cord (the portion of the spinal cord located in the neck) in large- and giant-breed dogs. Basically two types of compressive disease are included: 1) disk-related disease in mature dogs with thickening of the ligaments and instability of the joints between the cervical vertebrae (bones of the neck) and 2) disease of the cervical vertebrae in young dogs resulting from developmental abnormalities which cause malformation of the cervical spine. Another name for wobbler syndrome is "cervical vertebral instability."

3-Dimensional reconstruction of a CT scan made from a dog with Wobbler syndrome. Two bone screws (shown here in blue) have been used to stabilize the affected vertebrae. The spinal cord is shown as a pink, bean-shaped structure in the center of the spine (arrow).

Cervical vertebral instability – Wobbler. Side view of the neck of a Doberman Pinscher with Wobblers. The arrow is pointing to the lesion at the level of the 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae. The spinal cord (grey tube going from left to right in the picture surrounded by white spinal fluid and fat) is being severely compressed due to the lesion.

Additional information

Wobbler syndrome is a term loosely used to encompass compressive spinal cord lesions affecting the cervical spine (primarily caudal) in large- and giant-breed dogs. Basically two types of compressive disease are described: 1) disk related disease in mature dogs arising from type II disk herniation with accompanying vertebral ligamentous hypertrophy, presumably caused by joint instability--C5-6 and C6-7 are primarily involved but C3-4 and C4-5 can be, and 2) vertebral related disease in young dogs arising from developmental abnormalities causing malformation and malarticulation of the spinal column--all cervical joints can be affected.

Compression of the cervical spinal cord.

Systems Affected

No inheritance specifically identified but many factors may be under genetic control.

Reported in numerous breeds of large dogs. Old Doberman Pinschers (disk related disease) and young Great Danes (vertebral related disease) are predisposed.
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