Diagnosis and treatment for brain, spinal cord, nerve and muscle issues
The nervous system is very complex, reaching into all parts of the body. It has several components, including the brain, spinal cord, nerves and the junctions between the nerves and tissues such as muscle.
It’s not surprising, then, that neurological disorders can have many different causes and can present in various ways. Abnormalities can appear gradually or suddenly, with or without associated trauma. Some signs, such as fits or paralysis, may point strongly to the nervous system, while others can be less obvious.
It is also possible for different neurological diseases to cause similar signs yet have widely varying implications for treatment and prognosis. Some pets may be able to make a full recovery with rest and nursing care, while others may need urgent medical or surgical intervention.
Since the nervous system cannot be observed directly, careful examination and, in some cases, advanced diagnostic testing such as MRI is required to achieve an accurate diagnosis. Even with this information at hand, prior clinical experience and familiarity with the latest advances in treatment can make a big difference in determining an optimal management plan.
The dedicated Neurology & Neurosurgery team at SASH brings a wealth of expertise to these challenging situations. Combining our experience in examination and interpretation with in-house diagnostic and treatment facilities equivalent to those in human hospitals, we use our knowledge and skills to achieve the best possible outcomes for beloved pets and their families. Since early intervention can be crucial for successful management of some serious conditions, we recommend that pets be referred promptly for specialist assessment and care.
About the SASH Neurology & Neurosurgery Team
The specialists in our team at SASH have extensive experience in all aspects of neurology and neurosurgery, from investigation and diagnosis to medical management and surgery, including brain surgery and complex spinal surgery. Our specialist team members are also proud to train and mentor veterinarians seeking to specialise in this field. The Neurology & Neurosurgery team would not be complete without the highly skilled nurses who care for our patients while they are in hospital.
The Neurology & Neurosurgery team is fortunate to be able to work closely with colleagues in other teams at SASH, including Radiology, the Animal Cancer Centre, Internal Medicine and Ophthalmology. We involve our colleagues in the Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation team early in the care of pets who have had surgery. Due to the complexity of some neurological disorders, it is not unusual for several specialist veterinarians to collaborate in assessing and managing the needs of an individual pet. As well as producing the best health outcomes for the patient, this integrated, multi-disciplinary approach means that the needs of pets and their families can be met in the same familiar and caring environment.
The Neurology & Neurosurgery team sees patients with a wide range of signs including:
- Fits (seizures)
- Changes in behaviour
- Loss of senses (blindness, deafness)
- Lack of coordination
- Involuntary movements
- Muscle wastage
Frequently asked questions
One of the most important goals in diagnosing neurological disease is to narrow down the problem. Where is the abnormality located, which structures are affected and what is the nature of the disease process (e.g. inflammation, cancer, trauma)?
While many pets referred to the Neurology & Neurosurgery team at SASH have already undergone some diagnostic testing, more information is often needed. Initially, the challenge can be knowing where to look, so that further testing yields the most useful results. This is part of the expertise that our specialist neurologists offer.
Families can choose to have certain tests performed at SASH or by the referring veterinarian. In some cases, advanced techniques that are particularly well suited to examination of the nervous system, including MRI and nerve testing (electrophysiology), are needed. These services are available on-site at SASH Sydney. We also offer testing for deafness (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response, or BAER).
The treatment plan offered by the Neurology & Neurosurgery team is carefully tailored to the individual needs of each patient. We draw on our experience to help families make informed decisions about the most suitable approach.
Some disorders are best managed with time and patience. In these cases, we provide advice on supportive care to help families nurse their treasured companion back to good health. For diseases such as epilepsy, infections and auto-immune disorders, we select the most appropriate medications, and develop and fine-tune treatment regimens that restore the patient’s quality of life.
For pets requiring surgery, we have experience in, and can offer at SASH Sydney, a comprehensive range of neurosurgical treatments. Surgeries we routinely perform include:
- Surgery to relieve pressure from herniated intervertebral discs and spinal cysts
- Stabilisation of spinal fractures and malformations
- Spinal tumour surgery
- Brain tumour surgery
- Pituitary Surgery (See SASH Pituitary Centre)
- Placement of shunts to relieve pressure on the brain
Communication is a key priority for the Neurology & Neurosurgery team. Referring veterinarians receive a summary of the consultation at SASH, as well as the results of any diagnostic testing. We explain to families the nature of their pet’s condition, the outcomes of any testing and the implications for further testing, treatment and prognosis. When pets are admitted to hospital for surgery or other procedures, we provide regular updates and advise families of any recommended changes to the management plan. Our goal is to ensure that, throughout their experience with us at SASH, everyone has the information they need to best support the well-being of the pets they love and care for.