Ellie is a wonderful, much loved Great Dane, who was referred to the clinic because she had developed an acute ataxia, or unsteadiness, in her hind limbs. Ellie was also weak on her front legs and was exhibiting neurological signs that showed the information from her legs about where they were in space, described medically as proprioception, was not getting to her brain. These symptoms are often associated with problems at the base of the neck.

An MRI scan was taken of Ellie’s neck which revealed that were was a serious problem between the cervical vertebrae (bones of the spinal column) near the base of her neck. There are seven cervical vertebrae in the neck named C1, C2, etc. The MRI scan revealed that Ellie had problems between C4-C5, C5-C6 and C6-C7.

MRI scan of Ellie's neck.

MRI scan of Ellie’s neck.

After a long and heart-breaking discussion with Ellie’s owners it was decided that the best course of action was surgery to try and alleviate Ellie’s neurological problem. Distraction of the affected bones followed by fusion of all the bones was carried at all three sites by placing an inter-vertebral distraction screw (FITS, Fitz inter-vertebral Traction Screw) between each vertebral body to replace the discs and then joining each of the three vertebrae using plates anchored to each vertebral body, linked together with rods and linked to the inter-vertebral screws. Bone harvested from both of Ellie’s shoulder joints and was packed along the ventral surfaces of C4, C5, C6 and C7 to help encourage the bones of the neck to fuse together.

Post-surgery radiograph showing distraction fusion implants at the base of the cervical spine.

Post-surgery radiograph showing distraction fusion implants at the base of the cervical spine.

Within 48 hours of surgery Ellie was able to stand and walk with assistance – a major improvement from pre-surgery. Ellie stayed with us for a further week at the clinic for postoperative care, analgesia and appropriate physiotherapy before being reunited with her owners at home.

Ellie thriving after surgery and enjoying life!

Ellie thriving after surgery and enjoying life!

Ellie’s condition is medical described as cervical Spondylomyelopathy, more commonly described as Wobblers syndrome. To learn more about the condition and the treatments we use to help patients with this condition visit our Wobblers section on the website:http://www.fitzpatrickreferrals.co.uk/our-services/surgery/conditions/spine/cervical-spondylomyelopathy-wobbler-syndrome

To read more about Ellie’s life visit her website: http://www.elliethesuperdane.com/