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1.  Assessment into the usage of levetiracetam in a canine epilepsy clinic 
Retrospective studies can complement information derived from double-blinded randomized trials. There are multiple retrospective studies reporting good efficacy and tolerability of the anti-epileptic drug levetiracetam (LEV) in human patients with epilepsy; however, reports of LEV's tolerability and efficacy in dogs with epilepsy remain limited. The purpose of this retrospective study was to describe the use of LEV in a canine epilepsy clinic and determine the long-term efficacy and tolerability of LEV in veterinary clinical practice. The electronic database of a UK based referral hospital was searched for LEV usage in dogs with seizures. Information and data necessary for the evaluation were obtained from a combination of electronic and written hospital records, the referring veterinary surgeons’ records and telephone interviews with dog owners. Only dogs that were reportedly diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy were included in the study.
Fifty-two dogs were included in this retrospective study. Two treatment protocols were recognised; 29 dogs were treated continuously with LEV and 23 dogs received interval or pulse treatment for cluster seizures. LEV treatment resulted in 69% of dogs having a 50% or greater reduction of seizure frequency whilst 15% of all the dogs were completely free from seizures. Seizure frequency reduced significantly in the whole population. No dog was reported to experience life-threatening side effects. Mild side effects were experienced by 46% of dogs and a significantly higher number of these dogs were in the pulse treatment group. The most common side-effects reported were sedation and ataxia.
LEV appears to be effective and well tolerated for reduction of seizures.
PMCID: PMC4328478
Dog; Safety; Seizure; Tolerability; Treatment
2.  Development of learning objectives for neurology in a veterinary curriculum: Part II: Postgraduates 
Specialization in veterinary medicine in Europe is organized through the Colleges of the European Board of Veterinary Specialization. To inform updating of the curriculum for residents of the European College of Veterinary Neurology (ECVN) job analysis was used. Defining job competencies of diploma holders in veterinary neurology can be used as references for curriculum design of resident training. With the support of the diplomates of the ECVN and the members of the European Society of Veterinary Neurology (ESVN) a mixed-method research, including a qualitative search of objectives and quantitative ranking with 149 Likert scale questions and 48 free text questions in 9 categories in a survey was conducted. In addition, opinions of different groups were subjected to statistical analysis and the result compared.
A return rate of 62% (n = 213/341) was achieved. Of the competencies identified by the Delphi process, 75% objectives were expected to attain expert level; 24% attain advanced level; 1% entry level. In addition, the exercise described the 11 highly ranked competencies, the 3 most frequently seen diseases of the central and peripheral nervous systems and the most frequently used immunosuppressive, antiepileptic and chemotherapeutic drugs.
The outcomes of this “Delphi job analysis” provide a powerful tool to align the curriculum for ECVN resident training and can be adapted to the required job competencies, based on expectations. The expectation is that for majority of these competencies diplomates should attain an expert level. Besides knowledge and clinical skills, residents and diplomates are expected to demonstrate high standards in teaching and communication. The results of this study will help to create a European curriculum for postgraduate education in veterinary neurology.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12917-014-0314-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4323235  PMID: 25622644
Veterinary education; Curriculum; Learning objectives; Neurology; Postgraduate; Diplomate; Resident; ECVN; ESVN; Europe
3.  Development of learning objectives for neurology in a veterinary curriculum: part I: undergraduates 
With an increasing caseload of veterinary neurology patients in first opinion practice, there is a requirement to establish relevant learning objectives for veterinary neurology encompassing knowledge, skills and attitudes for veterinary undergraduate students in Europe. With help of experts in veterinary neurology from the European College of Veterinary Neurology (ECVN) and the European Society of Veterinary Neurology (ESVN) a survey of veterinary neurologic learning objectives using a modified Delphi method was conducted. The first phase comprised the development of a draft job description and learning objectives by a working group established by the ECVN. In the second phase, a quantitative questionnaire (multiple choice, Likert scale and free text) covering 140 learning objectives and subdivided into 8 categories was sent to 341 ESVN and ECVN members and a return rate of 62% (n = 213/341) was achieved.
Of these 140 learning objectives ECVN Diplomates and ESVN members considered 42 (30%) objectives as not necessary for standard clinical veterinary neurology training, 94 (67%) were graded to be learned at a beginner level and 4 (3%) at an advanced level. The following objectives were interpreted as the most important day one skills: interpret laboratory tests, perform a neurological examination and establish a neuroanatomical localization. In this survey the three most important diseases of the central nervous system included epilepsy, intervertebral disc disease and inflammatory diseases. The three most important diseases of the peripheral nervous system included polyradiculoneuritis, myasthenia gravis and toxic neuropathies.
The results of this study should help to reform the veterinary curriculum regarding neurology and may reduce the phenomenon of “Neurophobia”.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12917-014-0315-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4300725  PMID: 25582136
Veterinary education; Curriculum; Learning objectives; Neurology; Undergraduate; ECVN; ESVN; Europe
4.  Treatment in canine epilepsy – a systematic review 
BMC Veterinary Research  2014;10(1):257.
Various antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are used for the management of canine idiopathic epilepsy (IE). Information on their clinical efficacy remains limited. A systematic review was designed to evaluate existing evidence for the effectiveness of AEDs for presumptive canine IE. Electronic searches of PubMed and CAB Direct were carried out without date or language restrictions. Conference proceedings were also searched. Peer-reviewed full-length studies describing objectively the efficacy of AEDs in dogs with IE were included. Studies were allocated in two groups, i.e. blinded randomized clinical trials (bRCTs), non-blinded randomized clinical trials (nbRCTs) and non-randomized clinical trials (NRCTs) (group A) and uncontrolled clinical trials (UCTs) and case series (group B). Individual studies were evaluated based on the quality of evidence (study design, study group sizes, subject enrolment quality and overall risk of bias) and the outcome measures reported (in particular the proportion of dogs with ≥50% reduction in seizure frequency).
Twenty-six studies, including two conference proceedings, reporting clinical outcomes of AEDs used for management of IE were identified. Heterogeneity of study designs and outcome measures made meta-analysis inappropriate. Only four bRCTs were identified in group A and were considered to offer higher quality of evidence among the studies. A good level of evidence supported the efficacy of oral phenobarbital and imepitoin and fair level of evidence supported the efficacy of oral potassium bromide and levetiracetam. For the remaining AEDs, favorable results were reported regarding their efficacy, but there was insufficient evidence to support their use due to lack of bRCTs.
Oral phenobarbital and imepitoin in particular, as well as potassium bromide and levetiracetam are likely to be effective for the treatment of IE. However, variations in baseline characteristics of the dogs involved, significant differences between study designs and several potential sources of bias preclude definitive recommendations. There is a need for greater numbers of adequately sized bRCTs evaluating the efficacy of AEDs for IE.
PMCID: PMC4209066  PMID: 25338624
Systematic review; Epilepsy; Antiepileptic drugs; Treatment; Canine
5.  Clinical Risk Factors Associated with Anti-Epileptic Drug Responsiveness in Canine Epilepsy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e106026.
The nature and occurrence of remission, and conversely, pharmacoresistance following epilepsy treatment is still not fully understood in human or veterinary medicine. As such, predicting which patients will have good or poor treatment outcomes is imprecise, impeding patient management. In the present study, we use a naturally occurring animal model of pharmacoresistant epilepsy to investigate clinical risk factors associated with treatment outcome. Dogs with idiopathic epilepsy, for which no underlying cause was identified, were treated at a canine epilepsy clinic and monitored following discharge from a small animal referral hospital. Clinical data was gained via standardised owner questionnaires and longitudinal follow up data was gained via telephone interview with the dogs’ owners. At follow up, 14% of treated dogs were in seizure-free remission. Dogs that did not achieve remission were more likely to be male, and to have previously experienced cluster seizures. Seizure frequency or the total number of seizures prior to treatment were not significant predictors of pharmacoresistance, demonstrating that seizure density, that is, the temporal pattern of seizure activity, is a more influential predictor of pharmacoresistance. These results are in line with clinical studies of human epilepsy, and experimental rodent models of epilepsy, that patients experiencing episodes of high seizure density (cluster seizures), not just a high seizure frequency pre-treatment, are at an increased risk of drug-refractoriness. These data provide further evidence that the dog could be a useful naturally occurring epilepsy model in the study of pharmacoresistant epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC4143335  PMID: 25153799
6.  A case of canine discospondylitis and epidural empyema due to Salmonella species 
The Canadian Veterinary Journal  2013;54(6):595-598.
A case of canine discospondylitis and epidural empyema due to Salmonella species is reported. The history, clinical signs, and magnetic resonance imaging were suggestive of discospondylitis and empyema, which was subsequently confirmed by blood cultures. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first reported case of canine discospondylitis due to Salmonella species.
PMCID: PMC3659457  PMID: 24155452
7.  How Long and Low Can You Go? Effect of Conformation on the Risk of Thoracolumbar Intervertebral Disc Extrusion in Domestic Dogs 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69650.
Intervertebral disc extrusion (IVDE) is a common neurological disorder in certain dog breeds, resulting in spinal cord compression and injury that can cause pain and neurological deficits. Most disc extrusions are reported in chondrodystrophic breeds (e.g. Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, Pekingese), where selection for ‘long and low’ morphologies is linked with intervertebral discs abnormalities that predispose dogs to IVDE. The aim of this study was to quantify the relationship between relative thoracolumbar vertebral column length and IVDE risk in diverse breeds. A 14 month cross-sectional study of dogs entering a UK small animal referral hospital for diverse disorders including IVDE was carried out. Dogs were measured on breed-defining morphometrics, including back length (BL) and height at the withers (HW). Of 700 dogs recruited from this referral population, measured and clinically examined, 79 were diagnosed with thoracolumbar IVDE following diagnostic imaging ± surgery. The BL:HW ratio was positively associated with IVDE risk, indicating that relatively longer dogs were at increased risk, e.g. the probability of IVDE was 0.30 for Miniature Dachshunds when BL:HW ratio equalled 1.1, compared to 0.68 when BL:HW ratio equalled 1.5. Additionally, both being overweight and skeletally smaller significantly increased IVDE risk. Therefore, selection for longer backs and miniaturisation should be discouraged in high-risk breeds to reduce IVDE risk. In higher risk individuals, maintaining a lean body shape is particularly important to reduce the risk of IVDE. Results are reported as probabilities to aid decision-making regarding breed standards and screening programmes reflecting the degree of risk acceptable to stakeholders.
PMCID: PMC3722130  PMID: 23894518
8.  Changes over time in craniocerebral morphology and syringomyelia in cavalier King Charles spaniels with Chiari-like malformation 
Chiari-like malformation (CM) and syringomyelia is a neurological disease complex with high prevalence in cavalier King Charles spaniels (CKCS). The natural progression of this disease with time has not been described. The objectives of this study were to i) determine if syringomyelia progresses with time ii) determine if features of craniocrebral morphology previously associated with CM are progressive (including caudal cranial fossa volume, caudal cranial fossa parenchymal volume, ventricular dimensions, height of the foramen magnum and degree of cerebellar herniation). A retrospective morphometric analysis was undertaken in 12 CKCS with CM for which repeat magnetic resonance images were available without surgical intervention.
The maximal syrinx width, height of the foramen magnum, length of cerebellar herniation and caudal cranial fossa volume increased over time. Ventricular and caudal fossa parenchymal volumes were not significantly different between scans.
The results of this study suggest that syringomyelia progresses with time. Increased caudal cranial fossa volume may be associated with active resorption of the supraoccipital bone, which has previously been found in histology specimens from adult CKCS. We hypothesise that active resorption of the supraoccipital bone occurs due to pressure from the cerebellum. These findings have important implications for our understanding of the pathogenesis and variable natural clinical progression of CM and syringomyelia in CKCS.
PMCID: PMC3514376  PMID: 23136935
9.  Volume reduction of the jugular foramina in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with syringomyelia 
Understanding the pathogenesis of the chiari-like malformation in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (CKCS) is incomplete, and current hypotheses do not fully explain the development of syringomyelia (SM) in the spinal cords of affected dogs. This study investigates an unconventional pathogenetic theory for the development of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure waves in the subarachnoid space in CKCS with SM, by analogy with human diseases. In children with achondroplasia the shortening of the skull base can lead to a narrowing of the jugular foramina (JF) between the cranial base synchondroses. This in turn has been reported to cause a congestion of the major venous outflow tracts of the skull and consequently to an increase in the intracranial pressure (ICP). Amongst brachycephalic dog breeds the CKCS has been identified as having an extremely short and wide braincase. A stenosis of the JF and a consequential vascular compromise in this opening could contribute to venous hypertension, raising ICP and causing CSF jets in the spinal subarachnoid space of the CKCS. In this study, JF volumes in CKCSs with and without SM were compared to assess a possible role of this pathologic mechanism in the development of SM in this breed.
Computed tomography (CT) scans of 40 CKCSs > 4 years of age were used to create three-dimensional (3D) models of the skull and the JF. Weight matched groups (7–10 kg) of 20 CKCSs with SM and 20 CKCSs without SM were compared. CKCSs without SM presented significantly larger JF -volumes (median left JF: 0.0633 cm3; median right JF: 0.0703 cm3; p < 0.0001) when compared with CKCSs with SM (median left JF: 0.0382 cm3; median right JF: 0.0434 cm3; p < 0.0001). There was no significant difference between the left and right JF within each group. Bland-Altman analysis revealed excellent reproducibility of all volume measurements.
A stenosis of the JF and consecutive venous congestion may explain the aetiology of CSF pressure waves in the subarachnoid space, independent of cerebellar herniation, as an additional pathogenetic factor for the development of SM in this breed.
PMCID: PMC3514347  PMID: 22954070
Achondroplasia; Chiari-like malformation; Caudal occipital malformation
10.  Intervertebral disk width in dogs with and without clinical signs of disk associated cervical spondylomyelopathy 
Disk-associated cervical spondylomyelopathy (DA-CSM) is a multifactorial neurological disorder in which progressive caudal cervical spinal cord compression is mainly caused by one or more intervertebral disk protrusions. The Doberman pinscher breed seems predisposed for this condition. The underlying cause and pathophysiology of DA-CSM are currently unknown. Recently, wider intervertebral disks have been put forward as a risk factor for development of clinically relevant DA-CSM. However, little is known about other factors affecting intervertebral disk width. Therefore the aim of this study was to assess the association between intervertebral disk width, measured on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and clinical status, age, gender and intervertebral disk location in dogs with and without clinical signs of DA-CSM.
Doberman pinschers with clinical signs of DA-CSM (N=17),clinically normal Doberman pinschers (N=20), and clinically normal English Foxhounds (N=17), underwent MRI of the cervical vertebral column. On sagittal T2-weighted images, intervertebral disk width was measured from C2-C3 to C6-C7. Intra –and interobserver agreement were assessed on a subset of 20 of the 54 imaging studies.
Intervertebral disk width was not significantly different between Doberman pinschers with clinical signs of DA-CSM, clinically normal Doberman pinschers or clinically normal English Foxhounds (p=0.43). Intervertebral disk width was positively associated with increasing age (p=0.029). Each monthly increase in age resulted in an increase of disk width by 0.0057mm. Intervertebral disk width was not significantly affected by gender (p=0.056), but was significantly influenced by intervertebral disk location (p <0.0001). The assessed measurements were associated with a good intra –and interobserver agreement.
The present study does not provide evidence that wider intervertebral disks are associated with clinical status in dogs with and without DA-CSM. Instead, it seems that cervical intervertebral disk width in dogs is positively associated with increase in age.
PMCID: PMC3411421  PMID: 22839697
Cervical spondylomyelopathy; Wobbler syndrome; Magnetic resonance imaging; Morphometry; Intervertebral disk
11.  Increase in Cerebellar Volume in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with Chiari-like Malformation and Its Role in the Development of Syringomyelia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e33660.
Previous research in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS) has found that Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia (CM/SM) are associated with a volume mismatch between the caudal cranial fossa (CCF) and the brain parenchyma contained within. The objectives of this study were to i) compare cerebellar volume in CKCS (a “high risk’ group which frequently develops CM/SM), small breed dogs (medium risk – occasionally develop CM/SM), and Labradors (low risk – CM/SM not reported); ii) evaluate a possible association between increased cerebellar volume and CM/SM in CKCS; iii) investigate the relationship between increased cerebellar volume and crowding of the cerebellum in the caudal part of the CCF (i.e. the region of the foramen magnum). Volumes of three-dimensional, magnetic resonance imaging derived models of the CCF and cerebellum were obtained from 75 CKCS, 44 small breed dogs, and 31 Labradors. As SM is thought to be a late onset disease process, two subgroups were formed for comparison: 18 CKCS younger than 2 years with SM (CM/SM group) and 13 CKCS older than 5 years without SM (CM group). Relative cerebellar volume was defined as the volume of the cerebellum divided by the total volume of brain parenchyma. Our results show that the CKCS has a relatively larger cerebellum than small breed dogs and Labradors and provide evidence that increased cerebellar volume in CKCS is associated with crowding of cerebellum in the caudal part of the CCF. In CKCS there is an association between increased cerebellar volume and SM. These findings have implications for the understanding of the pathological mechanisms of CM/SM, and support the hypothesis that it is a multifactorial disease process governed by increased cerebellar volume and failure of the CCF to reach a commensurate size.
PMCID: PMC3323625  PMID: 22506005

Results 1-11 (11)