This retrospective case series compared clinical signs of 98 dogs treated medically or surgically for degenerative lumbosacral stenosis (DLSS) and assessed outcomes. DLSS is a multifactorial process in which progressive stenosis of the lumbosacral vertebral canal causes compression of the cauda equina. Surgical treatment yields variable success rates. Medical treatment has been suggested for dogs with mild to moderate signs without neurologic deficits, but little is known about outcomes. Medical treatment for study dogs consisted of restricted exercise for 4–6 weeks in combination with antiinflammatory and analgesic drugs. Surgical treatment consisted of dorsal lumbosacral laminectomy.
Dogs treated medically and surgically had significant differences with regard to clinical signs; thus, outcome between these two groups was not compared. Surgically treated dogs were significantly more often male, had neurologic deficits, and had received previously unsuccessful medical treatment. Medical management yielded a favorable success rate of 54.8%; 32.3% were managed unsuccessfully and underwent surgical treatment, 9.7% were euthanized because of clinical sign progression, and 3.2% were alive but had increased clinical signs. This outcome was deemed a fair prognosis. Failure of medical management can be followed by successful surgical decompression. Further studies are necessary to develop a clinical grading system for DLSS dogs, prospectively compare medical and surgical treatment, and to investigate prognostic indicators for medical treatment of DLSS.