Objective To describe the cytologic and histopathologic appearance of degenerate disk material in dogs with Hansen type I intervertebral disk disease (IVDD). Study Design Case series. Animals Dogs (n=45) that had surgical intervention for Hansen type I IVDD (January-November 2007). Methods Impression smears and histopathologic sections were prepared from surgically removed degenerate disk material. All slides were evaluated for overall cellularity, quantity and attributes of extracellular matrix, types of cells present, and their cytomorphology. Histopathologic sections were also examined for presence of neovascularization and hemorrhage. Results Cytologically, 11 of 45 samples consisted of only extracellular matrix, 30 had evidence of inflammation, and 20 contained dysplastic spindloid cells. Histologically, hyaline cartilage predominated in 35 of 45 samples, fibrocartilage in 4, and spindloid cells in 6; 37 of 45 were inflamed, 37 were hemorrhagic, and 13 had neovascularization. Conclusions The cytologic and histopathologic appearance of extruded degenerate disk material in dogs is variable and can include dysplastic spindloid cells. Clinical Relevance The variability in cytologic findings and frequent presence of dysplastic spindloid cells suggest that cytology alone may not be a reliable tool to differentiate degenerate canine disk material from a mesenchymal neoplasm.
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