Lordosis, scoliosis or
kyphosis spine deformations
are observed in
Esther van Praag, Ph.D.
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of spinal deformations have been observed in rabbits:
Lordosis, which presents
an inward curvature of a portion of the spine.
Scoliosis, which is a
side to side deformation of the spine.
Kyphosis, an abnormal
condition where the spine curves out and forms a bulge on the upper back.
The degree of
curvature is variable and may range from mild and barely visible to severe
and causing gait problems. The origin of these congenital deformations is not
well understood. It may relate to a lack of calcium in the food, improper
absorption of calcium in the intestine, lack of exercise, wrong posture due
to being kept in a small cage, or defective genes. Female rabbits appear more
frequently affected by these spinal abnormalities than males. It is linked to
their higher needs in calcium, especially during pregnancy and lactation.
examination and palpation of the spine enables to detect these deformations.
X-ray will confirm the problem.
affected by lordosis, scoliosis or kyphosis may be reluctant to move, groom
themselves and may remain in a hunched position. This is due to pain. As a
result, their appetite is reduced and their fur is poorly kept. Urine
scalding and accumulation of dry feces in the perianal region is frequently
seen. The accumulation of feces and the smell of urine may attract flesh
flies that lay their eggs on the wounded skin. This causes myiasis (fly-strike), a devastating condition
with poor prognosis.
deformation is severe, the rabbit may be reluctant to move or presents an
There is no
treatment for spinal deformation in rabbits.
relieved with the administration of NSAID analgesics, e.g. meloxicam or
caused by urine and feces is cleaned. The soiled fur is carefully clipped. A
cream or Vaseline can be applied onto the skin to protect it from moisture.
If there is secondary bacterial infection, antibiotics should be given to the
Suzi, a rabbit with scoliosis
may be less or more important in rabbits. It is governed by several genes, which
may be inherited by offspring. It is thus best not to use a rabbit affected
by this problem for breeding.
dorso-ventral radiographs taken from Suzi shows a severe side to side
deformation of the thoracic spine:
Kim Chilson – Dr. B. Langhofer (The
Scottsdale Veterinary Clinic Scottsdale, AZ,
during the necropsy of a rabbit:
Dr. Manfred Andratsch, Austria
of the spine. The deformation is light, with an inward and lateral curvature
of the spine, which was not visible on the live rabbit, only by palpation and
following the spine with a finger. Left: normal shape of the spine. Middle
and left: abnormally curved spine.
Rabbit with kyphosis
Dermod Malley FRCVS, Royal
Veterinary College, London, UK
affected by kyphosis, an outward curvature of the spine leading to a bulging
in the shoulder region.