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The surgical approach for removal of a herniated disc depends upon the location of the disc material within the spinal canal. A ventral slot procedure is the most common surgical procedure for disc herniation in the cervical spine. The approach is from the underside (ventral) of the neck, where intervertebral discs are located. A small hole (slot) is drilled through the center of the disc and a small portion of the adjacent vertebrae. This allows access to the spinal canal at the location of the herniated disc. Small instruments are then used to remove any free fragments of disc material that have herniated or ruptured into the spinal canal.

When indicated surgical success with a ventral slot procedure is good, provided that the disc herniation is acute and that neurological function (pain sensation of the toes and normal ventilation) is adequate at the time of surgery. Potential complications include hemorrhage, post-operative infection, instability/subluxation and spinal cord trauma. Fusion is not typically done with routine disc herniations, as dogs do well without it and the disc space will partially fuse within a few months post operatively.

Recovery depends on the initial neurological status with return of ambulation within days to months. Strict rest/confinement is recommended for about 1 month post surgery with gradual increase in activity thereafter. During confinement a well-padded surface is recommended to prevent bed sores. Rehabilitation therapy can speed recovery.

See our departments

Neurology

Our neurology specialty team has the advanced training, experience, skill and technologically-advanced diagnostic equipment to help your pet should a neurological condition occur affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves or muscles. Our approach includes thoroughly assessing your pet, helping you to understand how your pet's nervous system is affected by its condition and provide you with all available treatment options. Our Neurology Department is available 7 days a week to help you and your pet!

When you visit our Neurology/Neurosurgery Department for a neurology consultation, our neurologists generally start by collecting your pet's medical history. Our doctors then perform a thorough neurological examination of your pet, which provides us with information that will help us to pinpoint where the problem is occurring in the brain, spinal cord, nerves or muscles and identify the disorder. Based on this initial information, our doctors may recommend blood work, x-rays or more advanced testing, such as MRI, in order for us to arrive at a more definitive diagnosis. Having arrived at a diagnosis, we will then discuss with you the potential causes of the problem as well as all treatment options for your pet.

What is Veterinary Neurology?

Veterinary Neurology is the branch of medicine that treats diseases of the nervous system: the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles in pets. This encompasses such common problems as epilepsy, herniated disks, spinal and head injuries, meningitis, and cancers of the nervous system. A board certified veterinary neurologist is a licensed veterinarian who has obtained additional intensive training in veterinary neurology and has been certified by either the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) in the United States or the European College of Veterinary Neurology (ECVN) in Europe to specialize in veterinary neurology.

While your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems, certain diseases and conditions require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in veterinary neurology in order to provide the very best outcome for your pet.

Why Does My Pet Need a Veterinary Neurologist?

Just as your own primary care physician may feel the need to refer you to the care of a specialist from time to time, your general practitioner veterinarian may feel your pet needs a veterinary neurologist to help diagnose or treat a problem. While your general practitioner veterinarian can handle many aspects of your pet's care, just as in human medicine, there is sometimes a need for the attention of a specialist. You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet for more specialized diagnostic work or treatment is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of medical care for his or her condition.

Specifically, veterinary neurologists can provide the following:

  • A thorough neurologic examination, which may be videotaped for future reference
  • Brain and spinal cord imaging, including CT and bone scans, MRI, ultrasound, myelography, and radiography
  • Spinal fluid tap and analysis
  • Intensive care
  • Neurosurgery of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerve system
  • Electrophysiologic examination of nerves and muscles
  • Knowledge of clinical trials available to pets with specific neurologic disorders

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

In many cases, your regular veterinarian will still supervise your pet's veterinary care, especially if your pet is coping with multiple disease states or conditions. In other cases, your referral doctor will take over the majority of your pet's medical care for the duration of its referred treatment. It depends on your pet's particular problem.

Did You Know?

  • In an emergency, the safest way to transport a seizuring or unconscious pet to its veterinarian, for both you and the pet, is in an airline crate.
  • Seizures are the most common neurological problem in companion animals.
  • Intervertebral disk disease is the most common spinal cord problem in dogs.

Our Neurology Services

Medical Neurology
Surgical Neurology
Cerebrospinal Fluid Collection and Analysis
Dorsal Laminectomy Cervical and Lumbosacral

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