Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI, is a diagnostic tool that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create images of different parts of the body. It is a great tool to pinpoint the exact area of an injury, which allows for a more accurate diagnosis and more successful treatment.
Figure 1. Mid-Sagittal T2-weighted image of the cervical spine of a middle aged Beagle with neck pain and right forelimb lameness. The axial images (Figure 2) show a mild disc extrusion at C2-C3 (Image 3) without significant spinal cord compression (arrowhead) and a lateralized right-sided disc extrusion with marked spinal cord and nerve root compression at C5-C6 (Image 12). Lameness secondary to a spinal problem is referred to as “root signature” due to nerve root compression causing weakness and pain. A surgical procedure called a ventral slot was performed to remove the herniated disc material to relieve the pain and restore function.
VRCC's MRI is a 1.5 Tesla 4 Channel GE Echospeed, a high field MRI which yeilds a superior image quality for both small animals and large breed dogs.
Spinal Tap (CSF Analysis)
Cerebrospinal Fluid Analysis is a diagnostic that can be used to detect a wide variety of neurologic conditions including infectious diseases, bleeding in the brain or skull, causes of inflammation, and cancer. The spinal tap is performed under general anesthesia so that the patient is still and feels no pain. A needle is inserted in the base of the skull and fluid is collected and then sent off to be analyzed.
Electromyography is a diagnostic procedure that involves placing the patient under general anesthesia and inserting thin needle electrodes into the muscle. The electrical activity of the muscle is then recorded as a waveform which is evaluated based on shape, length, and frequency. This can help us to determine whether a muscle is responding abnormally and help us to diagnose motor neuron disorders.
Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER)
Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response is an electro-diagnostic test used to test the patient's ability to hear. It evaluates the components of the external, middle, and inner ear as well as the cranial nerve and certain areas of the brainstem.
The procedure itself is non-invasive, and may require a mild sedative depending on how long the procedure lasts. It involves placing small needle electrodes under the skin, and applying auditory stimuli of differing levels to test perception. The procedure can take anywhere fron 10 to 45 minutes depending on how many levels of stimuli are tested.