Archived Message
Occipital Dysplasia

by Lorrie

I am a frequent visitor to your Maltese before and since Dec 3 when our wonderful Precious came into our at 10 mos. old and 2 lbs 6 oz she has been diagnosed occipital dysplasia. Started steriod treatment yesterday (she is and has been at LSU Vet. Hosp. in Baton Rouge, LA since Saturday noon. What (if anything) do you know, or do you have knowledge of a website where I could learn more...we love her so and are so worried about the quality and quantity of life she can expect. Kind regards, Lorrie.


I'm sorry to hear of your dog being sick. I was searching the net yesterday. I just got to the point of narrowing my searches when I had to go somewhere. Could you let me this a form of cancer? You might try querying "DOG DISEASES" and go from there. If I had a brief discription of the condition, I might be able to get an exact match. But try "DISEASES", then "DOG DISEASES NOT CATS". I was frustrated because I felt like I was getting on to something and I had to go.

Lorrie, As promised this what I could find out. I offer you this reference from 'The Merck Veterinary Manual, Sixth Ed.': ...Congenital disorders of the spinal column and cord are many and include occipital dysplasia [dysplasia means: absence of some part of the body]. Occipital dysplasia refers to an abnormally large foramen magnum [def: foramen is a hole or opening. The word is applied particularly to holes in bones through which pass nerves or blood-vessels. The 'foramen magnum' is the large opening in the posterior aspect of the skull through which passes the spinal cord to enter the 'foramina' in each of the vertebrae of the spine. The nutrient 'foramina' are the holes in the shaft etc., of the bones which penetrate to the marrow cavity by which blood and lymph vessels and nerves pass to and from the marrow cavity] that results from a developmental defect of the occipital bone. The condition is commonly observed in small or toy breeds of dogs, usually as an incidental finding on skull radiographs. It is not believed to cause clinical signs [symptoms that you would notice]. I offer you this reference from 'Black's Veterinary Dictionary, 16th Ed., Edited by Geoffrey West: "...the occipital bone lies in the part of the skull which forms the occiput and can be felt as a hard bony plate in most animals. Some of the neck muscles are attached to the occipital bone, and the powerful ligamentum nuchae, which is the main supporting structure of the head and neck, is inserted into the prominence that can be felt between the ears." I could not find a prognosis on this condition. I imagine by now you have a prognosis from your vet. If it isn't too much trouble, I would be most interested in hearing how your dog is doing and what is the prognosis. I will keep your little one in my prayers. Our Pixie Bella is resting by my feet now as I am submitting this to you. Pixie Bella told me to tell you she offers her condolences as well.

May 9, 1997 Dear Vicki, Thanks ever so much for the info. Precious (I had not mention ed her name before) is vastly improved. She is on prednisone in decreasing doses beginning on 5/5. What you related is what we think..she should never have a recurrance unless she falls like she did on the 27th of April (between the sofa and end table) Seems like something would have shown up before she reached 10 mos. I still am hopeful she will have a normal puppy life. Lorrie

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