Authors of section

Author

Anton Fürst

Executive Editor

Jörg Auer

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Cervical instability

Cervical stenotic myelopathy (CSM) (cervical vertebral malformation, wobbler syndrome) is a common cause of spinal ataxia in young horses.

Cervical instability (myelography) depicting spinal cord compression (arrows) is shown.

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Etiology

Appears to be multifactorial.

Clinical signs

Clinical signs can be:

  • Mild ataxia to quadriplegia
  • Lameness of the forelimbs
  • Neck pain, stiffness, and torticollis

Imaging

Radiographs:

  • The growth plates and their closure times must be taken into consideration when interpreting the radiographic images in foals and young adult horses.
  • Frequently fissure lines and fractures are overlooked. Other imaging modalities are advised.
  • Fracture lines are often poorly visualized.
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Radiographic examination:

  • Lateral radiographs
  • Ventrodorsal radiographs. In the thoracolumbar region they are usually unrewarding because of the massive musculature around the vertebrae.
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Computertomography:

  • Possible up to C7 with standard CT scanner in adult horses.

Myelography:

  • Very useful for the neck area
  • Definitive diagnosis for cervical stenotic myelopathy is achieved by myelography, which helps to differentiate between dynamic and static compression.
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MRI:

  • Only possible for the first vertebrae with standard MRI in adult horses. A complete examination is possible in foals, small foals, ponies and donkeys.