Spinal Surgery

Veterinary Spinal Surgery in South Florida


In cases of Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD) or spinal tumor, a procedure known as a laminectomy may be indicated. Basically, IVDD in dogs means that the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column have either bulged or burst into the space of the spinal cord. Essentially, this procedure involves the removal of the top of your pet’s vertebra, known as the lamina, in order to have access to their spinal cord. This access enables our surgeon to remove any spinal tumor, or ruptured or protruding disk material that is compressing your pet’s spinal cord or nerve roots.

A laminectomy surgery is performed by removing the top of the vertebra, the lamina, in order to gain access to the spinal cord. The surgeon is then able to gently remove the protruding or ruptured disk material (or tumor) compressing the bottom and/or side of the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. Laminectomy surgery is often performed to treat:

  • IVDD (neck-large dogs)
  • IVDD (lumbosacral region)
  • Spinal Tumor (and biopsy)


Hemilaminectomy is a type of laminectomy procedure in which only a portion of the lamina is removed, and it’s the form of decompressive spinal cord surgery performed most frequently by our surgeons at Southeast Veterinary Neurology (SEVN) in South Florida. As with a laminectomy, it’s used to treat IVDD in dogs as well as spinal tumors, however, only a part of the lamina is removed along with the side of the vertebra, so our surgeon can approach the problem from the side.

The pedicle (side) of the vertebra is also removed allowing the surgeon to approach the spinal cord at a side angle. Hemilaminectomy is the most common type of decompressive spinal cord surgery and is frequently performed to treat:

  • IVDD (back)
  • Spinal Tumor (and biopsy)

Vertebral Stabilizations

At SEVN, we perform this type of surgery if your pet suffers from fractures, stenosis or subluxations of their vertebrae. A vertebral subluxation is when the improper motion or position of spinal bones negatively affects nerve communication between your pet’s brain and body. Spinal stenosis is when the spinal canal shrinks, and the decreasing of the spaces between the vertebrae causes the spinal cord or the nerves around it to be pinched. Subluxations are frequently caused by problems with the ligaments that hold the vertebrae in place or by a congenital malformation of the vertebrae. Stenosis is due to congenital or degenerative causes while fractures are typically caused by trauma.

Vertebral stabilization surgeries are performed to repair fractures, stenosis or subluxations/luxations of the vertebrae. Fractures are primarily caused by trauma while stenosis is usually due to degenerative or congenital reasons. Subluxations/luxations are often caused by a malformation of the vertebrae (often congenital) or a problem with the ligaments which hold the vertebrae in place (usually congenital and/or traumatic). Pins, screws, and/or bone cement are used to fuse parts of a vertebra or multiple vertebrae together to fix the instability and alleviate pressure on the spinal cord. Diseases that may require this type of surgery are:

  • Cervical Spondylomyelopathy (CSM) or ‘Wobbler’ Syndrome
  • Atlantoaxial Subluxation
  • Lumbosacral Stenosis or Cauda Equina Syndrome


This is a preventative veterinary spinal surgery that is often done in tandem with some of the others mentioned here. In this procedure, our veterinary surgeons remove the degenerative center of the non-herniated disks in your pet’s spine that immediately surround the protruded or ruptured disk. The name of this procedure means “to make a window”, and it does involve cutting a window in part of the material of the affected disks, which is followed by the removal of the center of the disks. This procedure involves little or no impairment of mobility, and future rupture of the fenestrated disks is unlikely. Our surgeons typically do this surgery for IVDD of the neck or back.

A window is cut in the annulus fibrosus of the disk followed by extraction of the degenerative nucleus pulposus. As the resected center of the disk scars, there is little or no effect on mobility. Although unlikely, there is still potential for future ruptures of the fenestrated disk(s). Fenestrations are commonly performed on patients with:

  • IVDD (back)
  • IVDD (neck)

Ventral Slot

A ventral slot may be done for your pet when they suffer from spinal cord compression due to IVDD in their neck. Our surgeons perform this through the underside of your pet’s neck to relieve this compression. A ventral slot is often used to treat:

  • IVDD (neck)