Equis ISSN 2398-2977

Spinal cord: trauma

Contributor(s):

Introduction

  • Common cause of neurologic disease in sport horses.
  • Cause: falls or collisions with solid objects.
  • Signs: immediate or delayed signs of para- or tetraparesis and ataxia.
  • Diagnosis: physical and neurologic examination, radiography, CSF analysis.
  • Treatment: high dose corticosteroids, DMSO, diureticsmayhelp (see therapeutics: anti-inflammatories   Therapeutics: anti-inflammatory drugs  ).
  • Prognosis: guarded for return to athletic performance if recumbent.
  • See also spine fractures   Spine: fracture  .

Pathogenesis

Predisposing factors

General
  • Trauma during athletic activity.
  • Accidents while jumping   →   cervical and thoracolumbar injuries.
  • Rearing   →   falling   →   head, thoracolumbar and/or sacrococygeal trauma.
  • Foals pulling back against a headcollar and falling over backwards often sustain atlanto-occipital injuries.
  • Brood mares may be predisposed to back injuries due to vertebral osteoporosis.

Pathophysiology

  • Mechanical trauma   →   inflammatory reaction (swelling, hemorrhage, edema) due to arterial pressor response mediated by vascular and adrenergic receptors   →   direct damage and increased intracord pressure   →   ischemia and necrosis.
  • Profound functional loss with minimal anatomic derangement may be related to extrusion of potassium ions leading to local depolarization.
  • Mediators: free radicals, free fatty acids, arachidonic acid metabolites, endogenous opioids and monoamines.
  • Other metabolic changes: loss of calcium from and accumulation of potassium in the extracellular space, loss of high energy phosphates, lactic acidosis, reduced intracellular pH.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Hendriks W K, Stout T A E & Weijden van der (2007)Spinal cord trauma in a recently foaled Friesian mare as a complication of ventral abdominal rupture.Equine Vet Educ19(5), 247-250 VetMedResource.
  • Hahn C (2006)The wobbly horse: differential diagnoses.In Pract28(1), 8-13 VetMedResource.
  • Ricardi Get al(1993)Forelimb lameness associated with radiographic abnormalities of the cervical vertebrae.Equine Vet J276(5), 422-426 PubMed.
  • Jeffcott L B (1980)Disorders of the thoracolumbar spine of the horse - a survey of 443 cases.Equine Vet J12(4), 197-210 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Nixon A J (1996)Fractures of the vertebraeEquine Fracture RepairEd: A J Nixon. W B Saunders, Philadelphia. ISBN 0-7216-6754-6.


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