Description and repeatability of a newly developed spinal cord injury scale for dogs. Academic Article uri icon


  • The objectives of this study were to describe a new spinal cord injury scale for dogs, evaluate repeatability through determining inter-rater variability of scores, compare these scores to another established system (a modified Frankel scale), and determine if the modified Frankel scale and the newly developed scale were useful as prognostic indicators for return to ambulation. A group of client-owned dogs with spinal cord injury were examined by 2 independent observers who applied the new Texas Spinal Cord Injury Score (TSCIS) and a modified Frankel scale that has been used previously. The newly developed scale was designed to describe gait, postural reactions and nociception in each limb. Weighted kappa statistics were utilized to determine inter-rater variability for the modified Frankel scale and individual components of the TSCIS. Comparisons were made between raters for the overall TSCIS score and between scales using Spearman's rho. An additional group of dogs with surgically treated thoracolumbar disk herniation was enrolled to look at correlation of both scores with spinal cord signal characteristics on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ambulatory outcome at discharge. The actual agreement between raters for the modified Frankel scale was 88%, with a weighted kappa value of 0.93. The TSCIS had weighted kappa scores for gait, proprioceptive positioning and nociception components that ranged from 0.72 to 0.94. Correlation between raters for the overall TSCIS score was Spearman's rho=0.99 (P<0.001). Comparison of the overall TSCIS score to the modified Frankel score resulted in a Spearman's rho value of 0.90 (P<0.001). The modified Frankel score was weakly correlated with the length of hyperintensity of the spinal cord: L2 vertebral body length ratio on mid-sagittal T2-weighted MRI (Spearman's rho=-0.45, P=0.042) as was the overall TSCIS score (Spearman's rho=-0.47, P=0.037). There was also a significant difference in admitting modified Frankel scores (P=0.029) and admitting overall TSCIS scores (P=0.02) between dogs that were ambulatory at discharge and those that were not. Results from this study suggest that the TSCIS is an easy to administer scale for evaluating canine spinal cord injury based on the standard neurological exam and correlates well with a previously described modified Frankel scale.

published proceedings

  • Prev Vet Med

author list (cited authors)

  • Levine, G. J., Levine, J. M., Budke, C. M., Kerwin, S. C., Au, J., Vinayak, A., Hettlich, B. F., & Slater, M. R.

citation count

  • 100

complete list of authors

  • Levine, Gwendolyn J||Levine, Jonathan M||Budke, Christine M||Kerwin, Sharon C||Au, Jennifer||Vinayak, Arathi||Hettlich, Bianca F||Slater, Margaret R

publication date

  • January 2009