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Neurology Services at Veterinary Referral Center (VRC)

Your pet’s nervous system, composed of her brain, spinal cord, and nerves, is a highly sensitive network that conveys critical information throughout her entire body. Its proper function plays a role in almost every body activity, from blood pressure maintenance and breathing, to eating and walking. If your pet develops a neurologic problem, she will need prompt treatment by a veterinary team with extensive neurologic experience. Your family veterinarian can treat many of your pet’s medical problems, but complex neurologic conditions often require the advanced equipment and expertise only a veterinary referral hospital can offer. 

What is a veterinary neurologist?

You have likely visited a medical specialist, such as a dermatologist or orthopedist, and your pet likewise sometimes needs the experience of a veterinary specialist. Similar to human medicine, veterinary neurologists focus on diagnosing and treating diseases of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves that originate from the brain and spinal cord to innervate the body’s muscles. VRC’s veterinary neurologist, Gaemia Tracy, DVM, Practice Limited to Neurology, is available to treat the most complex neurological conditions, and has special interests in managing intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), atlantoaxial instability, inflammatory CNS disease, and seizures. 

What neurologic conditions does VRC’s neurology department treat?

The neurology department at VRC can treat a variety of medical and surgical neurologic conditions, including:

  • Seizure disorders — Epilepsy is the most common seizure disorder to affect pets, but many other conditions, such as toxicity, brain tumors, and trauma, can cause seizures. Seizure disorder management involves diagnosing the underlying cause, and identifying medical treatments to control seizure activity.
  • Movement disorders — Movement disorders, such as paroxysmal dyskinesia, cause spontaneous, uncontrollable muscle movements and stiffness, similar to seizures. Our neurology department will determine if your pet’s abnormal movements are due to seizures, or another cause, and design an appropriate management plan. 
  • Neuromuscular diseases — Your pet’s muscles cannot contract without stimulation from her nerve cells, and if a neuromuscular disease interferes with communication between her nerves and muscles, she may experience weakness, or inability to perform normal functions, such as walking. Advanced diagnostics allow us to identify rare neuromuscular diseases, and offer treatment.  
  • Brain tumors — Brain tumors can be benign or malignant, and often require coordinated medical and surgical treatments for management. Although surgical resection is typically warranted, medications are often also needed, to treat side effects, or prevent cancer spread.
  • Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) — Pets with long, low backs, particularly dachshunds, can experience back problems related to a “slipped disc.” IVDD causes symptoms ranging from mild back pain to complete paralysis, and severe cases must be treated immediately, to prevent life-long paralysis. 
  • Spinal fractures and luxations — The individual vertebrae composing your pet’s spinal column can become misaligned or fractured, which can place abnormal pressure on her spinal cord. Spinal surgery is often necessary, to relieve damaging pressure, and prevent long-term complications.

 

What advanced diagnostics can VRC use to diagnose neurologic conditions in pets?

Thorough diagnosis of a neurologic disease or injury often requires advanced diagnostic and imaging techniques. To help us diagnose the most challenging neurologic conditions, we maintain the most up-to-date diagnostic equipment and techniques available, including:

  • Digital X-ray — X-rays are more often used to diagnose leg fractures, but they are invaluable when diagnosing neurologic problems, such as spinal fractures and luxations. 
  • Computed tomography (CT) — A CT is a type of X-ray machine that produces detailed body images in thin, cross-sectional slices. CT scans provide more accurate detail than traditional X-rays, by providing two- and three-dimensional images.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — An MRI uses powerful magnets, instead of radiation, to also produce slice-like images of body areas. The highly detailed images offer the best analysis of nervous system structures, including the brain and spinal cord. VRC has the only on-site MRI in the area. 
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis — Commonly referred to as a spinal tap, CSF collection allows us to analyze the fluid circulating through your pet’s brain and spinal cord, for abnormal cells, cancer, and infectious organisms. Veterinary Neurology

 

What clinical signs indicate nervous system disease in pets?

Since the nervous system plays a role in so many body functions, nervous disease signs are varied, but commonly include:

  • Incoordination
  • Muscle tremors
  • Pupil asymmetry
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Head tilt
  • Back pain
  • Paralysis 
  • Seizures 

If you think your pet may have a neurologic condition, or is not acting like herself, have her evaluated by your family veterinarian immediately, or bring her to our emergency room, if your veterinarian is closed. Some neurologic conditions progress quickly, and can be fatal, if not treated promptly.

If your family veterinarian suspects a complex neurologic condition in your pet, contact us. Our neurologic team will partner with your veterinarian, and you, to provide the best care possible, and the best chance of recovery, for your best friend.

 

Bilateral Vocal Fold Excision (Mucosoplasty) & Bilateral Arytenoidpexy (BVEAP) Approach to Laryngeal Paralysis in Dogs

Learn how your patient can benefit from the BVEAP technique over the “tie back”.

 

Ken Sadanaga, VMD, DACVS

 

Dr. Ken Sadanaga is recognized for pioneering a new surgical technique to treat laryngeal paralysis in dogs that addresses both the intraluminal and extraluminal contribution of laryngeal paralysis, which the traditional “tie back” method does not.

With the tie back method, one side of the lumen is opened permanently to allow for increased airflow. This technique works well to open the airway and improve breathing but increases the risk of aspiration pneumonia for the remainder of the dog’s life.

With the BVEAP technique, the compromised vocal cords are removed to open the lower intraluminal area of the larynx and the arytenoid cartilages are pexied to thyroid cartilage—thus, addressing the extraluminal contribution to laryngeal paralysis. This artytenoidpexy opens the larynx in a more conservative and symmetrical manner, maintaining a better interface between the glottis and epiglottis during the act of swallowing and therefore significantly reducing the potential for aspiration pneumonia.

Advantages of BVEAP Over “Tie Back”

  • Dogs can swim post-op, which is not recommended after tie back
  • Creates a more functional airway
  • Significantly less prone to aspiration pneumonia

 

To consult with Dr. Sadanaga regarding this innovative technique, contact him at 610-647-2950.

New Referral Relationship Manager, Joe Simpson

Meet Joe

Born in Philadelphia, PA, Joe earned a B.S. in biology from Southampton College in 2003 and has worked in the veterinary field since 2005.  During that time, he has worked in a variety of roles including as a veterinary technician, in vaccine production for Merck Animal Health, and a human resource/practice manager for a local AAHA accredited veterinary hospital.  Prior to joining VRC, he spent the last 3 years as a veterinary services representative for Petplan Pet Insurance.

During his freetime, Joe enjoys spending time with his wife Brittany and their two amazing daughters.  He also enjoys hiking with his two crazy dogs Harley and Oswald, running, and spending time at the beach.

What is a Referral Relationship Manager (RRM)? 

VRC has a Referral Relationship Manager to ensure that the needs of local general practice veterinarians are being met, to distribute up-to-date materials about new specialties and services, and to introduce our specialists to the referring community. Joe works with referring partners to schedule Lunch & Learn events and VRC doctor Meet & Greets that enable us to nurture relationships with one another. He also coordinates Continuing Education courses at VRC for rDVMs and technicians.

When you schedule a Lunch & Learn or Meet & Greet with doctors at VRC, we travel to your location (with complimentary breakfast or lunch) and provide education, training, and relationship building opportunities

Do you have a request for Joe?

Interested in inquiring further about the opportunities that we offer?

  • Schedule a visit from Joe
  • ​Request more materials (brochures, magnets, doctor directory, business cards, etc)
  • Schedule a Lunch & Learn at your facility (food provided)
  • Schedule a VRC doctor Meet & Greet at your facility (food provided)
  • Request Upcoming CE Information
  • Schedule a tour of VRC

Meet Our Newest Orthopedic & Soft Tissue Surgeon,   Michaela Gruenheid, DVM, MS

DR. GRUENHEID BRINGS THE FOLLOWING SERVICES TO VRC

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT DR. GRUENHEID>>


DR. GRUENHEID JOINS OUR SURGERY DEPARTMENT

DIETRICH FRANCZUSZKI, DVM, MS 

GAYLE JAEGER, DVM, MSPVM, DACVS

KENNETH K. SADANAGA, VMD, DACVS