Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol 2019; 32(03): 200-206
DOI: 10.1055/s-0039-1678542
Original Research
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Fractures of the Second Cervical Vertebra in 66 Dogs and 3 Cats: A Retrospective Study

Fenella E. Schmidli
1  Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, Vetsuisse Faculty, Bern, Switzerland
Veronika M. Stein
1  Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, Vetsuisse Faculty, Bern, Switzerland
Takeshi Aikawa
2  Aikawa Veterinary Medical Center, Tokyo, Japan
3  Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, North Grafton, Massachusetts, United States
Aurelien Jeandel
4  Davies Veterinary Specialists, Herts, United Kingdom
Nicholas Jeffery
5  Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, College Station, United States
Konrad Jurina
6  Tierklinik Haar, Haar, Germany
Pierre Moissonnier
7  VetAgro Sup, Marcy L'Etoile, France
Stefan Rupp
8  Tierklinik Hofheim, Hofheim, Germany
Beatriz Vidondo
9  Veterinary Public Health Institute, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Franck Forterre
1  Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, Vetsuisse Faculty, Bern, Switzerland
› Author Affiliations
Funding No funding was received for the present study.
Further Information

Publication History

04 November 2018

27 December 2018

Publication Date:
17 May 2019 (online)


Background In human medicine, fractures of the second cervical vertebra have been studied elaborately and categorized in detail. This is not the case in veterinary medicine where clinical decisions are often based on old studies focusing on the cervical spine in general.

Objectives The aim of this study was to describe the clinical features, fracture types, therapeutic options and outcome of dogs and cats with a fractured axis.

Study Design The present study was a multi-institutional retrospective case series.

Results Crossbreeds and Labrador Retrievers were the most represented dog breeds. Median age was 2 years. Motor vehicle accident was the most common inciting cause, followed by frontal collision. The most common neurological deficits ranged from cervical pain with or without mild ataxia (22/68) to tetraparesis (28/68) and tetraplegia (11/68). Concerning treatment, 37 of 69 patients underwent surgical fracture stabilization, 27/69 received conservative therapy and 5/69 were immediately euthanatized. Of all treated cases, 52/58 showed ambulatory recovery (23/25 of the conservatively treated and 29/33 of the surgically treated cases), whereby in 40/52 cases full recovery without persisting signs was achieved.

Conclusions Fractures of the axis commonly occur in young dogs. In many cases, neurological deficits are relatively mild. Generally, animals with a fractured axis have a very good prognosis for functional recovery. The risk of perioperative mortality is considerably lower than previously reported.

Author Contribution

All authors drafted, revised and approved the submitted manuscript. Beatriz Vidondo contributed to data analysis and interpretation. Takeshi Aikawa, Randy J. Boudrieau, Stefan Rupp, Aurelien Jeandel, Nicholas Jeffery, Konrad Jurina, and Pierre Moissonnier contributed to acquisition of data and data analysis and interpretation. Fenella E. Schmidli contributed to conception of study, study design, acquisition of data and data analysis and interpretation. Veronika M. Stein contributed to study design and data analysis and interpretation.