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A look through the latest literature

The latest academic publications providing further insight into this month's In Focus topic: neurology

Ultrasound-guided glucocorticoid injections in treating refractory neck pain in dogs

Johanna Wolf and others, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

Intervertebral disc protrusion is a frequent cause of chronic cervical pain and forelimb lameness in dogs. The authors examined four dogs with neck pain that was unresponsive to conservative management with rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, methocarbamol and gabapentin. Each dog received ultrasound-guided paravertebral perineural injections of methylprednisolone acetate. Injections were repeated at intervals of four weeks to three months, depending on the clinical response. There was complete resolution of clinical signs of pain in two cases, one showed significant improvement but in one dog there were only temporary improvements in pain and lameness scores.

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 258, 999-1006

Influence of sedation on the results of standard neurological reflex examinations

Kristen Horsley and others, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Pain, temperament, fear and anxiety can all interfere with the safe and accurate evaluation of common neurological reflexes in dogs. Sedation may be of practical help in carrying out such examinations but there is little published data on the effect it may have on the results. The authors sedated 14 healthy dogs before conducting patellar reflex and pelvic and thoracic limb withdrawal reflex tests. They found that sedation did not adversely affect the evaluation of the withdrawal reflexes and actually improved visualisation of the patellar reflex in these dogs.

Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 8, 664150

Cerebrospinal fluid analysis in dogs
with suspected idiopathic epilepsy

Samantha Gilbert and others, Cave
Veterinary Specialists
, Wellington, Somerset

Cerebrospinal fluid analyses are
carried out during investigations into idiopathic epilepsy to exclude
inflammatory and infectious causes. However, CSF sampling has well-documented
risks of infection, bleeding and spinal cord trauma. The authors assess the
diagnostic information obtained in 82 epileptic dogs in which fluid samples
were taken. They conclude that in patients with normal inter-ictal neurological
examinations and MRI findings, CSF samples rarely identify significant
abnormalities and the risks may outweigh the potential diagnostic gain.

Australian Veterinary Journal, 99, 1-5

Outcomes and prognostic indicators in paraplegic dogs undergoing hemilaminectomy

Christian Woelfel and others, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

Dogs with acute thoracolumbar intervertebral disc extrusion (TL-IVDE) may display clinical signs ranging from spinal hyperpathia to paraplegia with loss of pelvic pain perception. The authors evaluate the outcomes after decompressive surgery in 59 medium- to large-breed paraplegic dogs with TL-IVDE and extensive epidural haemorrhage. They found that dogs with extensive haemorrhage had a less favourable outcome following surgery than those with TL-IVDE alone. Loss of pain perception and the number of vertebrae showing changes in the MRI signal were also associated with poorer outcomes.

Veterinary Surgery, 50, 527-536

Effect of body condition and age on the cutaneous trunci reflex in healthy cats

Kari Foss and others, University of Illinois, Urbana

The cutaneous trunci reflex is frequently used to localise thoracolumbar spinal cord lesions in canine patients but in both neurologically normal and abnormal cats this response can sometimes be absent. The authors investigated the influence of factors including body condition score, age, sex and the instrument used to elicit the response. They found that the reflex could be elicited in all 65 cats examined and that body condition, age and sex had no perceptible effect on the response. Use of a haemostatic forceps elicited a reflex more caudally and bilaterally symmetrical than the Buck reflex hammer.

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 23, 287-292

Differentiating between orthopaedic and neurological causes of lameness

Sharon Kerwin and Amanda Taylor, Texas A&M University, College Station

Gait changes are a common reason for dogs being referred for a veterinary examination. Orthopaedic disease is the most likely cause of limping but in some cases the underlying factor may be neurological. The authors describe the process for distinguishing between orthopaedic and neurological lameness. Signs identified in a neurological examination, such as proprioceptive deficits, changes in reflexes and spinal hyperaesthesia are key to ruling out orthopaedic causes. However, they note that neurological and orthopaedic lameness can coexist, particularly in older animals.

Veterinary Clinics of North America, 51, 253-261

Encephalitozoon cuniculi infection in a guinea pig with granulomatous encephalitis

Anna Wilczynska and others, University of Life Sciences, Lublin, Poland

The intracellular fungus Encephalitozoon cuniculi is a well-established cause of disease in rabbits but there is limited information on its effects in guinea pigs. A three-year-old guinea pig was presented with torticollis, dehydration and hypothermia. Its condition improved with symptomatic treatment but three weeks later it returned with recurrent signs and it was euthanised. A histopathological examination revealed focal granulomatous encephalitis and E. cuniculi DNA was detected on PCR analysis.

Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, 35, 13-16

Effects of prednisolone on cerebral blood flow in the hippocampus of dogs

Kentaro Yamazaki and others, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan

Exposure of the brain to excess glucocorticoids as a result of stress has been cited as a possible factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. High blood levels of these agents may cause a reduction in cerebral blood flow. The authors investigated the effects of exogenous glucocorticoids in the brains of dogs. They show that in healthy dogs, prednisolone injections cause a reduction in blood flow in the hippocampus and thalamus. Further studies on glucocorticoid-related brain changes may be useful in research on neurodegenerative diseases in both humans and dogs.

American Journal of Veterinary Research, 82, 230-236