Episode 16: The latest on disk herniation in dachshunds

September 25, 2020
dvm360 Staff

In this episode of The Vet Blast Podcast, Dr. Christman is joined by Fred Wininger, VMD, MS, DACVIM (Neurology), who shares his extensive knowledge about intervertebral disk disease in dachshunds.

Dachshunds are the human equivalent to dwarfism, says neurologist and neurosurgeon Fred Wininger, VMD, MS, DACVIM (Neurology). “When we artificially bred dachshunds to have short little legs and a long back, we essentially artificially created a condition known as chondrodystrophy, which is Greek for ‘faulty cartilage.’” Where a Labrador retriever may have disk degeneration at age 8, 9, or 10, he explains, dachshunds have complete degeneration of their disks by the time they are 3 years old.

“It’s like they need another pair of legs in the middle of T12 and T13,” Christman joked. “Right,” Wininger agreed, “or more ribs.”

In this episode of the podcast, Dr. Wininger, who practices at Charlotte Animal Referral & Emergency Care in Charlotte, North Carolina, shares his knowledge about IVDD, including the differences between type 1 (degeneration of the inside of this disk predominantly) and type 2 (more of a slow protrusion or disk shifting that causes compression of the spinal cord). “Most dogs are probably somewhere on the spectrum of having a little bit of both,” he says.

Wininger also talks about type 3 herniation, also known as a missile disk or torpedo disk, which is now being seen due to the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In these dogs, he says, rather than a primary herniation or protrusion, a normal disk that is not that desiccated will rupture through, and actually not only bang the spinal cord but penetrate the spinal cord or hit it and then dissipate away. The new term is acute noncompressive disk herniation. “Those are dogs that get spinal cord injury in the absence of needing surgery.”

Regarding diagnostics, “The gold standard is always going to be an MRI,” Wininger says. “MRI is going to enable you to see not only the disk herniation and the rest of the spinal column, but it’s going to let you see the degree of the spinal cord compression.” Although computed tomography (CT) is not the first option, Wininger says there are some benefits to using this modality. CT is cost-effective, quick, and does not require the patient to be anesthetized like MRIs do.

They also discuss what types of herniation are considered a surgical emergency versus what can be treated with medical management, how the use of advanced imaging techniques has altered the typical treatment course, newer prevention options, and factors affecting patient recovery time.

To learn more about managing IVDD in your patients, listen below.