Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol 2021; 34(03): 191-199
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1721375
Original Research

Thoracic Vertebral Canal Stenosis Associated with Vertebral Arch Anomalies in Small Brachycephalic Screw-Tail Dog Breeds

Alessandro Conte
1   Torrington Orthopaedics, Brighouse, United Kingdom
Marco Bernardini
2   Ospedale Veterinario “I Portoni Rossi”, Zola Pedrosa, Italy
3   Department of Animal Medicine, Production and Health, University of Padova, Legnaro, Italy
Steven De Decker
4   Royal Veterinary College, University of London, Hatfield, United Kingdom
Cristoforo Ricco
5   Willows Veterinary Centre & Referral Service, Solihull, United Kingdom
Sebastien Behr
5   Willows Veterinary Centre & Referral Service, Solihull, United Kingdom
Daniel Sanchez-Masian
6   Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, Winchester, United Kingdom
Guinio B. Cherubini
7   Dick White Referrals, Six Mile Bottom, United Kingdom
Luisa De Risio
8   Linnaeus Group, Shirley, United Kingdom
9   Small Animal Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
› Author Affiliations


Objective The aim of this study was to describe clinical and imaging features of thoracic vertebral canal stenosis secondary to the hypertrophy of the vertebral lamina and articular processes in screw-tail brachycephalic dog breeds, to evaluate the prevalence of the malformation in a large group of screw-tail dog breeds and to determine if degree of stenosis is associated with presence of neurological signs.

Study Design This is a retrospective multicentric study.

Materials and Methods Clinical records of 185 screw-tail brachycephalic dogs (French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers) and Pugs were reviewed. Ten dogs with neurological deficits secondary to thoracic vertebral canal stenosis diagnosed on magnetic resonance imaging were identified (Group 1). Neurologically normal dogs (n = 175) of the same breeds underwent computed tomographic imaging of the thoracic vertebral column for other medical reasons (Group 2). Cross-sectional measurements were used to calculate a stenotic ratio.

Results Group 1 consisted of three French Bulldogs, six English Bulldogs and one Pug. Eight were males. Most dogs presented with progressive non-painful pelvic limbs ataxia and paresis. Twenty stenotic sites were identified with the most common being T4–T5. Three of ten dogs were treated surgically and all had a good long-term outcome. In Group 2, 33 of 175 dogs had one or more stenotic sites with the most common being T2–T3. The degree of the stenosis was significantly higher in Group 1 (p = 0.019). A stenotic ratio of 0.56 had sensitivity and specificity of 67% to differentiate between dogs with and without neurological signs.

Conclusion Cranial thoracic vertebral canal stenosis is observed predominantly in young male Bulldogs, but not all stenoses are clinically relevant.


Preliminary results of this study were presented as an oral presentation at BSAVA Annual Scientific Meeting, April 4–7, 2019, Birmingham, UK.

Authors' Contributions

A.C. and R.G. designed the study. R.G. contributed to conceptualization of the study. A.C., M.B., S.D., C.R., S.B., D.S., G.C., L.D. and R.G. contributed to acquisition of data and data analysis and interpretation. They drafted, revised and approved the submitted manuscript. All the authors are publically accountable for relevant content.

Supplementary Material

Publication History

Received: 13 March 2020

Accepted: 15 October 2020

Article published online:
07 December 2020

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