The animal body needs a way to communicate with its billions of cells and organ systems and although there is a myriad of chemicals in the body that send messages through fluids such as the blood, the best way to get the information where it is needed is by direct connection and this is what the nervous system accomplishes. The brain sorts through the information collected, sends out responses and transmits the data to produce an animal's awareness of its surroundings. The spinal cord transmits the information through millions of fibers (nerves) up and down the length of the body as well as the limbs and internal organs. This information can be collected or distributed to end organs such as the liver, heart, joints, brain and many many others. Those that are most important in the day-to-day life of a neurologist are the muscles.
Neurologic disease processes tend to have a predisposition for a specific area or areas of the nervous system. Therefore the brain is susceptible to recurring seizures, as is seen with epilepsy, or in older animals with brain tumors and infections such as meningitis.
Patients with spinal cord disease are most often presented for compressive problems, the most common by far being the result of intervertebral disc degeneration.
Peripheral nerves, connecting the spinal cord to the limbs, can be traumatically damaged and even attacked by the body's own immune system.
The connections between the muscles and nerves can be compromised as is evident in the disease syndrome Myasthenia Gravis.
The muscles themselves can be traumatized, become infected, or lose function because of damage to their blood supply.
There are hundreds of diseases that are the result of genetic defects that cause the cell's natural systems to run improperly and we are becoming increasingly aware of genetic markers that make an animal more prone to recognized diseases such as cancer.
Dr. Steve Steinberg has been a pioneer in the field of Veterinary Neurology in Maryland, but also the United States. He has been trained by virtually all the fathers and grandfathers of modern day veterinary neurology. The genetic markers that were unknown, when he was the first to describe a brain degeneration in Gordon Setters and Old English Sheepdogs. have been identified and more than twenty years later he is the co-author of a paper that describes this defect. Not only was he one of the first veterinarians to bring specialists out of the university and into private practice but he has also been on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, and The Canine Rehabilitation Institute.
What should you expect?
A well-organized approach to any case is the key to finding a diagnosis.
We will work with your local Maryland veterinarian to gain their understanding of each case history, as well as to review their records and diagnostic results. We will then ask for a detailed history from the person who is best able to describe the patient's clinical signs.
A complete examination will be performed including a comprehensive neurologic examination. Thoroughness and consistency are critical to arriving at the best course of action. Many orthopedic, cardiovascular, and medical abnormalities may appear similar to neurologic dysfunction.
We will recommend a course of action. The involvement of your regular veterinarian is always part of your pet's diagnostic and treatment plan. We understand that it may be much more convenient for you to have some tests performed and follow-up examinations scheduled at your regular veterinarian.
With the advent of widespread availability of expensive equipment we recognize that veterinary medicine has become quite costly. Newer medications, MRI's, CT's, and very specialized testing (sometimes performed only at one facility in the entire world!) have added dramatically to the price of veterinary medicine today. We are 100% committed to treating your four-legged family member the best way available while staying within your budget. There will always be a €œPlan B€ if €œPlan A€ is financially out of reach.
What do we do?
We will clearly explain the most likely disease processes and describe a diagnostic plan to help confirm our suspicions, if necessary. We will give an estimate of the costs and discuss treatment options based on our assessment of likely diagnoses. We will share information about treatment costs and try to include any possible or likely complications in our discussion. Medicine is still not an exact science but with the experience of Dr. Steinberg and his well-trained neurology team, coupled with our state-of-the-art Gaithersburg Animal Hospital, we are very good at pinpointing the unexpected and forewarning you accordingly. We always include your veterinarian in the plan we propose and keep them appraised of your animal's progress. We recognize that your veterinarian referred you because they have confidence in us but you came to our hospital because you have confidence in your veterinarian, so it is only natural you may wish to confer with them before making difficult decisions. After all, we recognize we are caring for one of your family.
Why choose VCA VRA's Neurologic Services?
First and foremost, we totally recognize the importance of every patient we see, not only to his or her caregivers, but also as a special being on this planet.
Second, you will have a difficult time finding any neurology service with our experience. Hundreds of brain tumor surgeries, thousands of spinal surgeries, thousands of epileptics, and tens of thousands of non-surgically treated patients have passed through our animal hospital our doors in Gaithersburg. Dr. Steinberg has lectured all over the world on topics including brain disease, peripheral nerve disease, internal medicine, case management and business. We developed the first chemotherapeutic brain tumor protocol after scouring the halls of the NIH library for agents specifically tested in dogs over two decades ago. VRA was the first facility animal hospital to recognize the place of advanced radiology in the veterinary specialty hospital setting and we have one of the first true Critical Care Units established in a veterinary specialty hospital.
Our neurology service has never stood still. We promise the best in cutting-edge medicine, ground in the knowledge that can only be developed through experience and presented with compassion that will be evident the moment you step through our doors.