THE MERCK VETERINARY MANUAL
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Vertebral Bodies and Disks in Horses

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The most common lesion of vertebral bodies and disks is ventral, ventrolateral, or lateral bony proliferation (often called vertebral spondylosis); it is mainly found in the midthoracic area (mostly between T10 and T14) but can also be observed in the lumbar area. They can be found on asymptomatic horses, but can also be responsible for acute pain or chronic back stiffness. Congenital abnormalities with vertebral body deformation (triangular or trapezoidal shape) are rare and usually found in the thoracic vertebrae. Vertebral body osteomyelitis, leading to neurologic signs, can be seen in the thoracolumbar spine in foals. Vertebral body fractures have been found in horses that have had severe trauma or falls. Complete or partial paraplegia results from damage to the spinal cord. The prognosis is grave.

Last full review/revision March 2012 by Stephen B. Adams, DVM, MS, DACVS; Joerg A. Auer, DrMedVet, Dr h c, MS, DACVS, DECVS; James K. Belknap, DVM, PhD, DACVS; Jane C. Boswell, MA, VetMB, CertVA, CertES (Orth), DECVS, MRCVS; Peter Clegg, MA, Vet MB, PhD, CertEO, DECVS, MRCVS; Andrew L. Crawford, BVetMed, CertES (Orth), MRCVS; Jean-Marie Denoix, DVM, PhD, Agregé; Marcus J. Head, BVetMed, MRCVS; C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, DSc, FRCVS, DACVS, DACVSMR; James Schumacher, DVM, MS, DACVS, MRCVS; John Schumacher, DVM, MS, DACVIM; Roger K. W. Smith, MA, VetMB, PhD, DEO, DECVS, MRCVS; Chris Whitton, BVSc, FACVSc, PhD

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