Di­ag­nos­tic Aids for Neu­ro­log­i­cal Cases

Practical Horseman - - The Complete Hourglass -

Di­ag­nos­tic tools, like those below, are es­sen­tial to help­ing your vet get the most ac­cu­rate pic­ture of the cause be­hind a horse’s neu­ro­log­i­cal prob­lem. While the first three tests are rel­a­tively com­mon, in some cases your vet­eri­nar­ian may want to use the other tools to pro­vide more clar­ity or de­tail to pro­vide a more pre­cise di­ag­no­sis.

Blood tests to check for an­ti­bod­ies to spe­cific equine dis­eases

A spinal tap to check for an­ti­bod­ies or ev­i­dence of in­flam­ma­tion of the ner­vous sys­tem; Dr. John­son, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the

Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia New Bolton Cen­ter, fur­ther ex­plains that “cer­tain pat­terns of in­flam­ma­tion can give the vet a hint as to the type of dis­ease, show­ing ev­i­dence of par­a­sites, fun­gal in­fec­tion or tu­mors.”

Ra­dio­graphs (X-rays) of the neck or spine to check for signs of wob­blers, arthritic changes or frac­tures

Myel­o­grams, which are a spe­cial type of ra­dio­graph where your horse is anes­thetized and laid down on his side, a con­trast agent (dye) is in­jected around his spinal cord and im­ages are taken with your horse’s neck in dif­fer­ent po­si­tions. They can ac­cu­rately iden­tify pres­sure on the spinal cord or ver­te­bral nar­row­ing or in­sta­bil­ity, con­firm­ing what may only be sus­pected from an X-ray.

Mag­netic res­o­nance imag­ing, a di­ag­nos­tic imag­in­ing technology that could al­low a vet­eri­nar­ian to iden­tify struc­tural prob­lems or in­flam­ma­tion of the brain or spinal cord

Com­puted to­mog­ra­physcans, which pro­vide high-res­o­lu­tion im­ages of bone and some soft-tis­sue struc­tures in mul­ti­ple planes, yield­ing much more in­for­ma­tion than stan­dard ra­dio­graphs

Elec­tro­di­ag­nos­tic test­ing to as­sess nerve and mus­cle func­tion, al­though Dr. John­son notes that this is not a com­mon di­ag­nos­tic tool be­cause it requires spe­cial­ized ex­per­tise and equip­ment only avail­able through a lim­ited number of vet­eri­nary hos­pi­tals

Nu­clear scintig­ra­phy, also known as bone scans, can show in­flam­ma­tion in the bones or where lig­a­ments at­tach to bone.

Dr. John­son notes that di­ag­nos­tics are one area of equine neu­rol­ogy that’s seen im­prove­ments in re­cent years. For in­stance, “the knowl­edge of need­ing to com­pare blood and spinal fluid [to iden­tify EPM] is really re­cent,” she notes. In ad­di­tion, she says, “Imag­ing is get­ting bet­ter. We’re able to im­age more parts of the horse. We do more brain MRIs in horses than in the past. We can take CT scans of the horse’s neck and, here at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, we now have a ro­botic CT sys­tem” that al­lows vets to scan more of the horse more eas­ily. (For an overview of the ro­botic CT scan­ner, go to www.prac­ti­cal­horse­man­mag.com)

Nu­clear scintig­ra­phy, also called a bone scan, can be a help­ful di­ag­nos­tic aid for a neu­ro­log­i­cal is­sue.

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