Virginia and Vernon already know that their handsome seven-year-old Dobermann, Dexter, has serious spinal problems – he has been collapsing on his back legs, and tumbling on his front legs – and they are now seeing Noel to discuss options for his treatment.

The Problem

Noel has diagnosed a spinal cord condition known as ‘wobblers disease’ which can be caused by genetically predisposed disc or bony compression of the spinal cord in the neck of large breed dogs. Dexter is affected by drying out and bulging of two intervertebral discs in his lower neck which are compressing both his spinal cord and his nerve roots. The former is causing him to fall over on all four legs, whilst the latter causes significant pain.


Medicine alone has failed to provide quality of life. Surgical options include taking the pressure away by pushing apart the vertebrae with either distraction-fusion or provision of artificial discs. Virginia and Vernon elected for total disc replacement. There are other disc replacements available, but Noel has invented a two-part mobile total disc replacement system which is custom made for each patient and screwed into the adjacent vertebrae. He is currently the only surgeon in the world providing this treatment option, the ‘Fitz-Disc’.