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Open Access Highly Accessed Case report

Diagnosis and treatment of lumbosacral discospondylitis in a calf

Evelyne Muggli1, Tanja Schmid1*, Regine Hagen2, Barbara Schmid1 and Karl Nuss1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Farm Animals, Vetsuisse-Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

2 Department of Small Animals, Section of Diagnostic Imaging, Vetsuisse-Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

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BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7:53  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-53

Published: 13 September 2011

Abstract

Background

The aim of this case report was to describe the clinical findings, treatment and outcome of lumbosacral discospondylitis in a calf.

Case Presentation

A 5.5-month-old calf was presented with difficulty in rising, a stiff and slightly ataxic gait in the hind limbs and a shortened stride. The lumbosacral region was severely painful on palpation.

Radiographic examination confirmed lumbosacral discospondylitis. Medical treatment with stall rest was instituted over six weeks. Radiographic and ultrasonographic follow-up examinations showed lysis of the endplates initially, then collapse of the intervertebral space at the lumbosacral junction and progressive sclerosis in the periphery of the lytic zones. Four weeks after institution of treatment, the calf could rise normally and the general condition gradually had returned to normal. The calf was discharged after 6 weeks and was sound at 3.5 months clinical and radiographic follow up examination. Thereafter, it was kept on alpine pastures without problems and was pregnant 1 year after the last examination.

Conclusions

This report shows that recovery from lumbosacral discospondylitis is possible in heifers, provided that treatment is started before major neurologic deficits have developed and is continued for an extended period of time.