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Spine

The most common neurosurgical procedures performed at Hamilton Specialist Referrals (HSR) are in the treatment of diseases and injuries of the spine that result in compression of the spinal cord and/or the associated nerve roots. Such cases present with varying degrees of pain, weakness and incoordination. MRI is seen at the gold standard in imaging of the spine as it provides unrivalled resolution of the neurological structures. HSR boasts an on-site 1.5T high-field MRI scanner, which allows rapid acquisition of the highest quality images to facilitate accurate and precise surgical planning.

  • Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE)
  • Hemilaminectomy & Ventral Slot
  • Spinal fusion, foraminotomy & dorsal laminectomy
  • Spinal malformations and arachnoid diverticuli

Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE)

Fibrocartilagenous thromboembolism (FCE) is the disease in which tiny fragments of cartilaginous material enters and blocks the blood supply to the spinal cord causing infarction (“stroke”). This causes a sudden onset of weakness or paralysis of the limbs, often worse on one side of the body.

It typically occurs during exercise such as running or jumping. An initial yelp is often heard. The sudden onset of paralysis with pain causes the dog to appear distressed as it struggles to stand. Many dogs do not appear to be painful.

Referral to a neurologist is advised to rule out causes of acute paralysis that may benefit from surgical decompression.

The diagnosis is made with MRI of the spinal cord. Spinal fluid and blood tests are used to rule out other causes of “strokes”.

Improvement usually occurs within a few weeks during which time return of strength and coordination is supported by physiotherapy. Bladder care is vital; paralysed animals often are unable to voluntarily urinate so the bladder must be expressed manually. Protection against pressure sores with suitable bedding and turning the pet from side to side is also required.

The chance of having a second FCE is low.

Hemilaminectomy & Ventral Slot

Our spinal surgeons have vast expertise in performing decompressive hemilaminectomy and ventral slot in the treatment of disc extrusions of the thoracolumbar and cervical spine respectively.

Such cases often require prompt surgical decompression and we provide an efficient but friendly service for you and your clients and we hope our expertise will reassure at what can be a difficult time.

Spinal fusion, foraminotomy & dorsal laminectomy

Large breed dogs more commonly suffer from more chronic disc protrusions, similar to the situation in people.

These cases have their own challenges and we offer a full range of surgical options for dogs suffering from Wobbler syndrome, thoracolumbar disc protrusion and lumbosacral disease.

Spinal malformations and arachnoid diverticuli

We also perform complex spinal surgeries in small breeds including the treatment of spinal deformities and diverticuli in brachycephalic breeds, and the treatment of atlantoaxial subluxation in toy breeds.

In selected cases we use high resolution CT imaging and computer assisted design (CAD) software to aid in placing surgical implants with the highest levels of surgical precision and accuracy.

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