A diplomate in the field of veterinary neurology specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the nervous system, comprised of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. While neurology is a subspecialty of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, neurologists in veterinary medicine are also trained to perform neurosurgery. Surgeries of the brain, spine, nerve and muscle are now considered routine in veterinary specialty practice.
A neurologic evaluation begins with a thorough physical exam, with special emphasis placed on assessing the nervous system. The veterinary neurologist will attempt to determine if a pet has a neurologic problem and if a problem exists, where in the nervous system this problem is located. Further testing is necessary to determine the actual cause of a pet’s clinical signs (known as “symptoms” in people).
The most common test ordered by a veterinary neurologist is a Magnetic Resonance Image, or MRI. MRI is an advanced imaging test that allows our neurologists to look inside the skull and spinal column to see disease processes affecting the brain and spinal cord, in a non-invasive way. Occasionally, other tests may be required to confirm a pet’s diagnosis including:
Once a diagnosis is achieved, a neurologist’s attention shifts toward potential treatment options. Most problems involving the nervous system are treatable, while others are potentially fixable. Unfortunately, however, as is true in human medicine, some neurologic problems cannot be treated or corrected. Treatments can range from oral medications given at home to injectable medications given while hospitalized, brain or spinal cord surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Many neurologic diseases are not curable, however, they are manageable. As such, pets with neurologic diseases are typically prescribed some type of long-term therapy. Patients on medications chronically must be monitored carefully and need periodic recheck exams over time. Successful treatment of neurologic conditions is dependent on teamwork between the owner, the family veterinarian, and the neurologist. With appropriate testing, treatment, and follow-up, a veterinary neurologist can assist pets in living happier, healthier lives.
If your pet needs to see a neurologist, speak with your primary care veterinarian about a referral to Upstate Veterinary Specialties, located in Latham NY, just minutes from Albany. Our veterinary neurologists Dr. Todd Bishop and Dr. Chelsie Estey and the team at UVS can work with you and your primary care veterinarian to diagnose and manage your pet’s neurologic condition to improve their overall quality of life.
If you’re a referring veterinarian seeking more information about neurology/neurosurgery and treatments available for your patients at UVS, contact us today at (518) 783-3198. You can also refer a patient quickly and easily using our convenient online Referral Form.