Acta Vet. Brno 2018, 87: 321-330

Cauda equina syndrome in dogs - a review

Igor Šulla1, Vladimír Balik2, Slavomír Horňák3, Valent Ledecký3

1University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy, Department of Anatomy, Histology and Physiology, Košice, Slovakia
2Palacky University, Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine, Olomouc, Czech Republic
3University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy, Small Animals Clinic, Košice, Slovakia

Received February 17, 2018
Accepted December 7, 2018

A lesion of sacrococcygeal spinal nerve roots forming a structure that resembles a horse's tail results in the development of clinical entity identified as the cauda equina syndrome (CES). The disease can evolve slowly and symptomatology can be incomplete, but the fully developed CES is characterized by pain and altered sensation in the pelvic extremities, tail, perianogenital region, paresis or plegia of hind limbs, incontinence and impotence. Major causes of CES in dogs are degenerative changes of the lumbosacral vertebral column, haematoma, inflammation, neoplasm or trauma. The diagnosis is based on history, clinical presentation, neurological symptomatology, spinal röntgenography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging. In animals experiencing initial episodes of CES, conservative therapy can be attempted. But the only rational treatment of patients with severe neurological deficit is surgical decompression of the neural structures. The outcome depends on the underlying aetiology and the degree of sensory, motor and autonomic dysfunction. Canine and porcine experimental models mimicking the CES showed the involvement of intrinsic spinal cord structures. This points out the need for an early diagnosis followed by aggressive management before irreversible neuronal lesions develop. The search strategy involved the PubMed, Medline, Embase and ISI Web of Science from January 2000 to August 2017 using the terms 'cauda equina syndrome' and 'lumbosacral stenosis' in the English language literature; also references from selected papers were scanned and relevant articles included.


The collection and study of literature dealing with different aspects of CES as well as the preparation of the presented paper was supported by the VEGA grant No 1/0898/15 of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Academy of Sciences.


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