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Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced primarily within the ventricles of the brain and travels within the central nervous system (CNS) down towards the lower back and tail. CSF surrounds the brain and spinal cord and acts to support, protect and nourish these structures.

Spinal fluid can be obtained from the back of the neck just behind the head or from the lower back. Collection of CSF involves shaving hair over these areas, aseptically preparing the overlying skin and carefully placing a small needle into the space around the spinal cord. This procedure is performed in anesthetized patients placed in very specific positions. When performed by a well trained and experienced veterinarian, such as a veterinary neurologist, risks of complications associated with this procedure are generally low.

CSF can be analyzed for cell types and numbers, as well as for changes in normal components, such as protein level, or presence of abnormalities, e.g. infectious agents or cancerous cells. CSF analysis is generally used together with other tests (e.g. MRI, myelography) to help determine the underlying cause of a problem affecting the CNS. CSF analysis can be especially important in diagnosis of inflammatory CNS conditions, e.g. meningitis.

Neurology

Board-certified veterinary Neurologists/Neurosurgeons are veterinarians who have received advanced training after veterinary school in the diagnosis and management of diseases that affect the brain, spinal cord, muscles, and nerves of animals. They have typically completed one or more years of internship and a three year residency in an approved program. In addition, they have passed numerous exams and have demonstrated the knowledge, proficiency, and skills to be awarded certification by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in the specialty of Neurology. In other words, they are individuals that have dedicated years of their life to study and practical training in their chosen specialty far beyond what a typical graduate veterinarian would.

Some of the conditions a neurologist would diagnose and treat include:

  • Weakness or paralysis (difficulty using legs)
  • Wobbler’s Syndrome
  • Cauda Equina Syndrome
  • Spinal pain
  • Tremors
  • Behavior changes
  • Head tilts and balance issues
  • Seizures
  • Neuromuscular disorders (diseases of the nerves and muscles)
  • Meningitis/Meningoencephalitis (Inflammatory/Infectious diseases of the central nervous system)

Board-certified neurologists work closely with your family veterinarian and are an integral part of the team once a problem is detected. Internists often utilize specialized testing to diagnose illness. The tests may include: The more common specialized tests utilized by a board-certified veterinary neurologist include:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Computed Tomography (CT, cat scan)
  • Myelograms
  • Spinal fluid analysis (spinal tap)
  • Electrodiagnostics
  • Muscle/nerve biopsy

Some of the procedures a neurologist can perform include:

  • Spinal cord decompression (disc herniation)
  • Cervical Vertebral Stabilization (Wobbler’s Syndrome)
  • Lumbo-Sacral decompression (Cauda equine Syndrome)
  • Cranio-Occipatal Malformation surgery
  • Atlanto-Axial luxation stabilization (AA Lux)
  • Spinal fracture/luxation stabilization
  • Craniotomy

VCA West Coast Animal Specialty and Emergency Hospital strongly believes in the triad of care. You, your family veterinarian, and your VCA West Coast neurologist will become a team working together to provide your pet with the best possible care.

If you or your veterinarian believe your pet may benefit from an consultation with an neurologist, please contact us. Additional information is available at www.acvim.org.

Our Neurology Services

BAER Brainstem Auditory Evoked Potential Testing
Cerebrospinal Fluid Collection and Analysis
Electromyography EMG
Nerve Conduction Velocity NCV

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