A neurologist is a doctor who is specifically trained to diagnose and treat animals that suffer from diseases that affect the brain, spine, nerves and muscles. Common symptoms seen in animals that have neurological disease include weakness, paralysis, loss of balance, deafness, seizures and exercise intolerance. Animals can suffer from many of the same neurological disorders that occur in people such as ‘slipped discs’, epilepsy, head trauma, brain tumors, spinal fractures, etc. Diagnosing and treating neurological conditions often requires advanced diagnostics that are not readily available to your primary veterinarian and our neurologist works with your veterinarian to help provide these services.
Diagnostics that are available at Nashville Veterinary Specialists for evaluating your dog or cat for a neurological disorder include:
- Cerebrospinal fluid analysis – evaluation of spinal fluid is often used when looking for inflammation in the central nervous system but can also be used in conjunction with other tests to diagnose conditions such as cancer in the nervous system.
- Myelography – this is a procedure where a dye is injected into the space around the spinal cord in order to better visualize the spinal cord and look for disorders such as a disc herniation or cyst that may be affecting the spinal cord.
- Computed Tomography – CT is often used to visualize parts of the nervous system that are not visible on radiographs and for evaluating conditions such as spinal fractures. The is also one of the most common ways to diagnose intervertebral disc disease in specific breeds of dogs.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging – MRI is the best way to evaluate the majority of the nervous system, especially disorders that involve the brain as it provides a much more detailed picture of the soft tissues of the nervous system
- Electrodiagnostics – electrodiagnostics are most often used to evaluate disorders of the nerves and muscles and is most helpful when combined with nerve and muscle biopsies. Auditory evoked testing is also available and is used to evaluate animals for deafness.
Once an animal is diagnosed with a neurological disorder then a treatment plan can be developed. Some disorders are treated medically while others require surgery. Surgery is also performed by our neurologist and include:
- Dorsal and hemilaminectomy
- Ventral slot
- Spinal stabilization for fractures
- Ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement
- Ventral distraction-fusion for Wobblers disease
- Foramen magnum decompression for Chiari malformation
- Surgical treatment of brain tumors