Incomplete Ossification Of The Atlas In Dogs With Cervical Signs

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Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2009;50:635-638.

Osseous defects affecting the atlas were identified in computed tomography and magnetic resonance images of five dogs with cervical signs including pain, ataxia, tetraparesis, or tetraplegia. Osseous defects corresponded to normal positions of sutures between the halves of the neural arch and the intercentrum, and were compatible with incomplete ossification. Alignment between the portions of the atlas appeared relatively normal in four dogs. In these dogs the bone edges were smooth and rounded with a superficial layer of relatively compact cortical bone. Displacement compatible with unstable fracture was evident in one dog. Concurrent atlantoaxial subluxation, with dorsal displacement of the axis relative to the atlas, was evident in four dogs. Three dogs received surgical treatment and two dogs were treated conservatively. All dogs improved clinically. Incomplete ossification of the atlas, which may be associated with atlantoaxial subluxation, should be considered in the differential diagnosis of dogs with clinical signs localized to the cranial cervical region.