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6 December 2019 Diagnosis and Treatment of a Cervical Vertebral Fracture in a Sulcata Tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata)
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Abstract

A 17-yr-old, 22.2-kg, intact female sulcata tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata) was presented for evaluation of a suspected intestinal obstruction and a 2-month history of hind-limb weakness, anorexia, lack of defecation, and decreased urine production. Clinical signs included generalized subcutaneous edema, pelvic limb paresis, decreased vent tone, and ataxia. Computed tomography (CT) identified findings consistent with a chronic compression fracture of the eighth cervical vertebrae with severe extradural compression of the spinal cord and near-complete obliteration of the vertebral canal. The tortoise was medically managed in the hospital for 13 days and discharged with analgesic and antibiotic medications. Over the following weeks, the tortoise regained an ability to defecate and urinate, and the tortoise's motor deficits mildly improved. A recheck contrast CT at 39 wk postdischarge was consistent with remodeling of the chronic compression fracture and mildly improved extradural compression of the spinal cord. Approximately 2 yr after the initial presentation, the motor limb deficits were still present. Thirty-three months after initial presentation, the tortoise presented obtunded and with anasarca. The tortoise was euthanized, and the necropsy revealed bilateral demyelination with moderate axonal loss, astrocyte reactivity, and moderate dural fibrosis in the spinal cord, consistent with chronic compression at the level of C8. This report illustrates an unusual presentation of a chronic cervical vertebral fracture and spinal cord compression that was diagnosed and monitored via CT, the treatment and recovery of most of the initial clinical signs and persistent motor limb deficits, as well as the postmortem spinal cord histologic findings.

Daniela Yuschenkoff, David Sanchez-Migallon Guzman, Molly Gleeson, Kathryn Phillips, Kyle Wakeman, Stephanie Gilneur, Kevin Woolard, Beverly Sturges, and Jessica A. Emerson "Diagnosis and Treatment of a Cervical Vertebral Fracture in a Sulcata Tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata)," Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery 29(3-4), 92-100, (6 December 2019). https://doi.org/10.5818/18-11-168.1
Published: 6 December 2019
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