Split spinal cord malformations in 4 Holstein Friesian calves
BACKGROUND:The split spinal cord malformation (SSCM) is an uncommon congenital malformation of the vertebral canal in which parts of the spinal cord are longitudinally duplicated. In SSCM Type I, each spinal cord has its own dura tube. In the SSCM Type II, both parts of the spinal cord are surrounded by a common dura tube. CASES PRESENTATION:During the clinical examination one calf showed ambulatory paresis and 3 calves non-ambulatory paraparesis. Calf 4 additionally had a congenital tremor. The examination of calf 4 using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a median hydrosyringomyelia at the level of the 4th lumbar vertebra. The caudal part of this liquid-filled cavity was split longitudinally through a thin septum. From there, the spinal cord structures duplicated with an incomplete division, so that the transverse section of the spinal cord appeared peanut-shaped and in each half a central canal could be observed. The pathological-anatomical examination after euthanasia showed a duplication of the spinal cord in the area of the lumbar vertebral column in all calves. The histopathological examination revealed two central lumbar vertebral column channels. The two spinal cord duplicates were each surrounded by two separate meninges in calf 2 (SSCM type I); in the other calves (1, 3, 4, and) the two central canals and the spinal cord were covered by a common meninx (SSCM type II). A pedigree analysis of calves 2, 3 and 4 showed a degree of relationship suggestive of a hereditary component. This supports the hypothesis of a possible recessive inheritance due to common ancestors, leading to partial genetic homozygosity. CONCLUSIONS:The clinical appearance of SSCM can vary widely. In calves with congenital paralysis SSCM should always be considered as a differential diagnosis. A reliable diagnosis intra vitam is possible only with laborious imaging procedures such as MRI. Further studies on the heritability of this malformation are necessary to confirm a genetic cause of this disease.
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