Does abnormal spinal curvature predispose dogs to develop disc herniation?

9 December 2019 – News

Although not often considered the primary cause of clinical signs, it has been suggested that intervertebral malformations interfere with spinal biomechanics.  A study aimed to clarify whether there is an association between kyphosis, scoliosis and intervertebral disc extrusion.

The retrospective investigation included the clinical cases of 178 French bulldogs, a breed often linked to these conditions. The dogs were divided in two groups: the first included pets with clinical signs and imaging findings compatible with IVDE (intervertebral disc extrusion. The second group comprised animals without obvious clinical signs.

In addition to confirming that age is an independent risk factor for cervical or thoracolumbar IVDE, the results showed that French bulldogs with kyphosis are twice as likely to suffer disc herniation compared to same-breed dogs without this malformation. The study also showed that the anatomic distribution of IVDE can vary according to the type of vertebral abnormality: kyphosis is more associated with disc extrusion in the thoracolumbar region while hernias in the caudal lumbar area are more frequent in scoliotic French bulldogs. No link between spinal scoliosis and a major disc extrusion prevalence was found.

The study concluded that while spinal curvature irregularities cannot exclusively explain the high rate of IVDE in FB, they should be considered a risk factor for the development of this disorder. The impact of alterations in biomechanical loading should not be underestimated and further studies are required.

Inglez de Souza et al. Evaluation of the influence of kyphosis and scoliosis on intervertebral disc extrusion in French bulldogs. BMC Veterinary Research (2018) 14:5. DOI 10.1186/s12917-017-1316-9