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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2008 Feb 1;232(3):411-7. doi: 10.2460/javma.232.3.411.

Adverse effects and outcome associated with dexamethasone administration in dogs with acute thoracolumbar intervertebral disk herniation: 161 cases (2000-2006).

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  • 1Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.



To determine complications and neurologic outcomes associated with dexamethasone administration to dogs with surgically treated thoracolumbar intervertebral disk herniation, compared with dogs not receiving dexamethasone.


Retrospective case series.


161 dogs with surgically confirmed thoracolumbar disk herniation.


Medical records from 2 hospitals were used to identify dogs that had received dexamethasone < 48 hours prior to admission (dexamethasone group dogs), dogs that received glucocorticoids other than dexamethasone < 48 hours prior to admission (other-glucocorticoid group dogs), and dogs that received no glucocorticoids (nontreatment group dogs). Signalment, neurologic injury grade, laboratory data, and complications were extracted from medical records.


Dexamethasone group dogs were 3.4 times as likely to have a complication, compared with other-glucocorticoid or nontreatment group dogs. Dexamethasone group dogs were 11.4 times as likely to have a urinary tract infection and 3.5 times as likely to have diarrhea, compared with other-glucocorticoid or nontreatment group dogs. No differences in neurologic function at discharge or recheck evaluation were detected among groups.


Results indicated that treatment with dexamethasone before surgery is associated with more adverse effects, compared with treatment with glucocorticoids other than dexamethasone or no treatment with glucocorticoids, in dogs with thoracolumbar intervertebral disk herniation. In this study population, no difference in outcome was found among groups. These findings suggest that the value of dexamethasone administration before surgery in dogs with thoracolumbar disk herniation should be reconsidered.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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