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A hemilaminectomy is the most common surgical approach in the thoracolumbar spine. The approach is less commonly used in the cervical spine. The surgical approach for a hemilaminectomy is from the top side of the dog or cat. Once the spinal column is reached a portion (lamina) of the vertebrae is removed from the side. This allows for removal of disc that has herniated off to one side or the other or removal of a tumor or cyst that may be located on one side of the spinal cord. This approach also allows direct access to the disc that lies underneath the spinal cord. It allows for greater access to the spinal canal compared to a ventral slot and allows visualization beneath the spinal cord which is difficult to obtain during a dorsal laminectomy. Once the portion of the vertebrae is removed during a hemilaminectomy the herniated or ruptured disc material is then removed with small instruments. The combination of the hemilaminectomy approach and disc material removal alleviates compression or pinching the spinal cord allowing further spinal cord healing to take place. During the hemilaminectomy procedure the disc is not replaced. Fenestration of the affected disc and sometimes the nearby discs may be done depending on the clinical scenario and neurosurgeon’s preference. Potential complications from hemilaminectomy include trauma to the spinal cord, hemorrhage, infection and instability. The prognosis with the hemilaminectomy procedure is often good, but depends on the pre-surgical condition of the pet. Dogs and cats with acute disc herniation that have the ability to feel their toes at the time of surgery typically do quite well. The success rate with surgery is less for dogs without sensation of their toes, chronic spinal cord compression and multiple compressive sites. Recovery time is variable with return to ambulation typically within weeks 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. It is important to ensure that your pet is urinating regularly post operatively. Urinary tract infections are common in dogs with spinal cord injury and should be monitored for. Rehabilitation therapy can speed recovery.
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Neurology

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.

There are less than 100 veterinary neurologists in the United States today.

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

Cerebrospinal Fluid Collection and Analysis
CT Scan (brain, bullae, skull, spine)
Dorsal Laminectomy (cervical and lumbosacral)
Electromyography (EMG)

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