Caring Quality Service
160 Main North Road, Papanui, Christchurch
Northlands Animal Hospital
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Stoli presented to us in the early hours of the morning as she was unable to use her back legs. Mr and Mrs Smith reported that when they let Stoli out earlier that morning she was her normal bright, happy, fit self.

Physical Exam

On physical exam stoli was responsive to her surroundings but she was unable to stand and bear weight on her back legs. She had 2 large grazes on her back just over her shoulder blades and was very painful over this region. Luckily Stoli was still able to move her tail slightly and feel deep pain when her back toes were pinched (inability to feel such pain is a poor sign as means there are nerves involved, but SHOCK can influence pain sensation).

Stoli received pain relief and fluids to support her vital organs (heart, brain, lungs, kidneys) as she was in shock.


Several radiographs of her spine showed a broken spinous process of her vertebrae (shown by arrow in Fig 1). Luckily her diaphragm, bladder, and lungs were all ok as these organs are easily damaged during a traumatic event.


Stoli was cage rested for several days with lots of pain relief. Her neurological status (presence or absence of deep pain) was closely monitored. On the 3rd or 4th day, Stoli could only feel deep pain sometimes which was devastating. This suggested that the spinal cord had pressure on it and her chance for recovery without surgery was poor.

Stoli was then transferred to one of NZ’s leading surgical specialists at Vet Specs.

An MRI showed a fracture of the vertebral body but was luckily still in place, but a massive 30% of her spinal cord was compressed (had pressure on it) and that was why the nervous input had trouble reaching her back legs hence her inability to feel pain or move her back legs or urinate by herself.

Stoli then had surgery where the pressure on the spinal cord was relieved via a special technique called a hemilaminectomy (exactly like the ones humans have) and her vertebral body fracture was stabilised with a pin and screws and bone cement (fig 2 and 3).


After a week in hospital, Stoli could use her back legs with help, and with special medication, started to urinate on her own.

Recovery in such spinal cases is VERY SLOW as nerves can only grow a few millimetres a month so the final outcome is sometimes unknown even with the best treatment available.

Stoli is now at home with her owners, Mr and Mrs Smith and sister again. Mr Smith has been shown how to express Stoli’s bladder and checks this every day. Sometimes he still needs to help her urinate.

Stoli is a very brave young girl and is making slow but steady progress!

Good on you Stoli, we are all very proud of you!