Neurology

Our board-certified neurology team is skilled in all aspects of neurology and neurosurgery, including the diagnosis and treatment of brain, spinal cord and neuromuscular diseases. We are proud to offer on-site magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for detailed imaging of the brain and spinal cord. Brain surgery, spinal distraction and stabilization, and laminectomy / ventral slot surgery to treat animals suffering from intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) are routinely performed by this talented team of neurosurgeons. Our neurologists are on-call for emergency surgeries and work seamlessly with our ER and other specialty departments as well as your primary care veterinarian to ensure a comprehensive approach to patient care.

What is a board-certified veterinary neurologist?

A veterinary neurologist is a veterinarian who has successfully completed additional training, including a minimum of a 1-year internship followed by a 3-year residency in a program that meets the guidelines established by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). Board-certification requires completion of a rigorous examination.

What to Expect at your pet’s first neurology appointment:

Our Neurology Service sees patients 7 days a week (with occasional exceptions, including holidays). It is helpful for our team to have access to your pet’s medical history in advance of your visit. Our staff will facilitate this once your primary care veterinarian arranges your pet’s referral and/or when you call to schedule your appointment.

When you arrive at our hospital, you will be asked to fill out an information sheet about your pet. Please bring all current medications and supplements your pet is receiving or a detailed list of this information including medication name, formulation (tablet versus capsule versus liquid suspension) and information regarding dose and dose frequency; we prefer to get this information directly from you as there are often discrepancies between what was initially prescribed in the medical record and what your pet is receiving due to side effects, efficacy or other factors.

Our front office staff will ask you and your pet to find a seat in our lobby and alert the neurology team of your arrival. One of our neurology nurses will then come and escort you and your pet to an examination room for a review of your pet’s medical history. The nurse will then bring your pet to the neurology area within the hospital where they will collect vital parameters including temperature, pulse, respiratory rate and blood pressure. The nurse will then provide your pet’s medical history to the neurologist who will perform an examination including both general physical and comprehensive neurologic evaluations. We prefer to perform neurologic evaluations in our designated neurology area as we have access to specific tools (e.g. non-slip mats) that are not easily portable; additionally, many pets will express pain differently/more freely when they are out of their owner’s presence. If you have concerns with this process, please feel free to discuss this with the neurology nurse. Following collection of vital parameters and your doctor’s examination, your pet will be brought back to you in the examination room and the neurologist will meet with you directly to discuss your pet’s condition and provide diagnostic and treatment recommendations.

Additional diagnostics (e.g. blood work, radiographs, ultrasound, MRI, electrodiagnostic testing and/or cerebrospinal fluid collection and analysis) may be recommended to accurately diagnose your pet’s condition and optimize treatment recommendations. While not always needed, we ask that you be prepared to leave your pet with us for the day. We also ask that you take away your pet’s food the night before their visit (continued access to water is fine). In addition to the possible need for sedation or general anesthesia, certain blood testing requires fasted sampling.

Following initial evaluation, our neurologists will work with you to develop the best treatment plan taking all factors into consideration. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with you and your primary care veterinarian to provide optimal care for your pet.

What will it cost?

The fee for a consultation appointment with the Neurology service is $175. There are additional costs for diagnostic tests, such as blood work, radiographs, and MRI among others. Treatment costs vary widely. After discussing diagnostic and treatment plan options, our neurology team will provide you with an estimate of associated costs. This initial estimate may change as test results become available and pending your pet’s response to treatment. We will keep you updated as charges accrue and discuss changes that may be needed to the initial estimate.

What to expect if my pet has an elective procedure (e.g. MRI and/or surgery) with the Neurology Service

Prior to scheduled procedure drop-off:

  • Do not feed your pet anything after 10:00 p.m. the night before anesthesia.
    • a. If you are concerned with fasting your pet due to concurrent medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, please communicate this to the neurology staff or neurologist caring for your pet so modified instructions may be discussed.
  • If ambulatory (able to walk), please walk your dog in the morning (for cats, please allow continued litter box access) before coming to the hospital so that they can eliminate normally.
  • When the nurse comes to meet you and admit your pet for the planned procedure(s), please be prepared to relay which medications and supplements your pet is currently receiving including formulation and dosing and when they were last given. Also relay any dietary restrictions.
    • a. Please note, we can only accept medications that are in clearly marked prescription bottles (not pre-portioned pill boxes, plastic baggies, etc.). Additionally, controlled substances such as opioid pain medication and certain anticonvulsants (e.g. phenobarbital) must be given from our hospital stock.
    • b. While we are happy to take provide your pet their normal diet while in hospital, we cannot accept raw food due to the associated risk of biocontamination.
  • Please confirm the number where we can best reach you with our front desk prior to leaving. As we cannot always predict the exact time of your pet’s procedure at drop-off, please indicate if you would like a phone call from the nursing staff to alert you when we are starting anesthesia.

While undergoing MRI and/or surgery, your pet will be under anesthesia and closely monitored by our highly trained team. After your pet’s procedure, the neurologist will phone you with an update.

We understand it can be stressful to have your pet in the hospital and we value the human / animal bond you share. To accommodate this, we offer flexible visiting hours (NOTE: 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. are busy hours in our hospital and we strive to minimize visits during these times). We recommend visits be limited to 30 minutes or less in order to avoid disrupting ongoing treatments.

What to expect when my pet comes home after MRI (no surgery)

After your pet has recovered sufficiently from anesthesia to be discharged, a neurology team member will meet with you to go over home care instructions. These instructions may include:

  1. Exercise restriction: Depending upon the nature of your pet’s condition, exercise restriction may be necessary either to facilitate healing without surgical intervention or to prevent subsequent injury based upon current physical limitations. The neurology team will go over the specifics of your pet’s exercise limitations with you. If you anticipate the need for sedation to facilitate the recommended degree of rest, please communicate this to the nursing staff or neurologist overseeing your pet’s care.
  2. Physical therapy / rehabilitation: Optimal recovery from brain or spinal cord injuries often involves some form of rehabilitation. Our neurology team will work with you on determining your pet’s needs as their recovery progresses. As indicated, we will provide an overview of at home exercises as well as referral information for a rehabilitation facility.
  3. Medication: Your pet may be sent home with medication(s) to be given either short or long term based upon their underlying condition. This may include anticonvulsant medication, pain relieving medication, anti-inflammatory medication and/or antibiotics, among others. Please give all medications as directed. If follow-up blood work is indicated to monitor safety and efficacy of your pet’s new medication(s) this will be discussed. Please let the neurology team know if you are unfamiliar with or unable to give any of the medications.
  4. Shaved fur: While your pet will not have a surgical incision, there will be regions of fur shaved including on a limb(s) at the site of IV catheter placement, on the chest where an MRI compatible ECG patch is placed for anesthesia monitoring as well as possibly at the back of the head, over the lower back and/or over multiple joints if fluid sampling has been performed. We understand that shaving can regrettably impact the cosmetic appear of your pet’s coat; however, this is necessary to ensure anesthetic safety and to avoid infection or sample contamination. Please let the neurology team know if you have specific questions or concerns regarding this.

What to expect when my pet comes home after surgery

After your pet has recovered sufficiently from surgery to be discharged, a neurology team member will meet with you to go over home care instructions. These instructions may include:

  1. Incision care: As the incision heals, it is important that your pet not be allowed to lick or scratch the area as this may lead to infection, wound break down, or other complications. You pet may be sent home in an E-collar to keep them from being able to reach the area.
  2. Exercise restriction: As your pet heals and recovers, exercise restriction will be critical. The neurology team will go over the specifics of your pet’s exercise limitations with you. If you anticipate the need for post-operative sedation, please communicate this to the nursing staff or neurologist overseeing your pet’s care.
  3. Physical therapy / rehabilitation: Optimal recovery from surgery of the brain or spinal column often involves some form of rehabilitation. Our neurology team will work with you on determining your pet’s best plan of action as their recovery progresses. We will provide an overview of at home exercises as well as referral information for a rehabilitation facility if indicated.
  4. Medication: Your pet may be sent home with medication(s) to aid in their recovery. This may include pain relieving medication, anti-inflammatory medication and/or antibiotics, among others. Please give all medications as directed. Please let the neurology team know if you are unfamiliar with or unable to give any of the medications.
  5. Suture removal: Sutures (stiches, staples) are typically ready to be removed 10-14 days after surgery. The neurology team will provide specific recommendations for your pet’s suture removal. Our front desk staff can help you schedule this appointment.

Our Neurology Team

Alix Partnow

DVM, MS, DACVIM

Veterinary Specialist, Neurology

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Erich Spoor

DVM, DACVIM

Veterinary Specialist, Neurology

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Julie Egnor

DVM

Veterinarian, Neurology and Neurosurgery Resident

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Chrystal Nguyen

DVM

Veterinarian, Neurology and Neurosurgery Intern

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