Brain Surgery

Brain Surgery for South Florida Pets

As with people, brain surgery is performed on animals for a variety of ailments, including surgical removal of brain tumors, correction of brain anomalies (e.g., Chiari-like malformation), removal of blood clots (e.g. subdural hematoma) and placement of shunts in patients with hydrocephalus.

At Southeast Veterinary Neurology (SEVN), we have the expertise to treat for the most complicated neurological ailments that may be affecting your pet. With our sophisticated diagnostic equipment, we are able to determine the cause of your pet’s neurological problem. Our veterinary neurosurgeons have performed thousands of successful procedures over the years. Rest assured, if your pet need brain surgery, there is no other facility in Florida that is better equipped, more experienced or as understanding of how worried you are about your loved one.

Surgical Removal Of Brain Tumors

You may be frightened when you first hear that your dog or cat has a brain tumor. We know it sounds scary, but the vast majority of dogs and cats do extremely well with brain surgery. We only recommend brain surgery if we feel that your pet is a good candidate and that the potential for a good outcome outweighs the surgery.

The most common type of brain tumor in dogs and cats is called a meningioma.  This is a type of tumor that arises from the coverings or surface of the brain.  An MRI will determine if the tumor is on the surface of the brain and whether surgery is a good option.  Pets can often live a happy life for years after brain surgery. 

Our neurologists are experienced in brain surgery.  In fact, many other neurologists in Florida send their most complicated cases for brain surgery at SEVN.  We use the safest anesthesia techniques, monitor your pet closely before, during and after surgery, and have the equipment and expertise to give your pet the best chance at a successful outcome.

Why Does My Pet Need Brain Surgery?

There are certain problems that may require this sophisticated type of surgery. These include the presence of a brain tumor, the correction of brain anomalies and the removal of blood clots just to name a few. Neurosurgical experience and expertise are paramount in importance.

The ultimate goal of surgery is to remove the entire tumor and cure your pet.  In other areas of the body, surgery removes the tumor and additional normal areas around the tumor, what we call “margins".  This is done to ensure that as much tumor as possible is removed.  Unfortunately, in the brain and spinal cord, we are not able to obtain “margins", as we can’t remove “extra, normal" brain.

Our goal is to remove as much as possible, alleviate symptoms of the tumor, and send the tumor to the lab for various tests.  For many cats with meningiomas, surgery can be curative.  Many dogs with brain tumors can live for years after surgery.  The exact amount of time is difficult to predict and depends on the type of tumor, how aggressive it is, how much tumor was able to be removed at surgery and what follow-up treatments are pursued.

Pre-Operative MRI In Dog With Brain Tumor

Pre-Operative MRI In Dog With Brain Tumor

Post-Operative MRI In Dog With Brain Tumor

Post-Operative MRI In Dog With Brain Tumor

The neurologists and neurosurgeons at SEVN have many years of experience with surgical treatment of brain tumors.  Successful outcomes depend not only the experience of the surgeon, but also on the availability of state of the art equipment such as ultrasonic aspirators (photo), on-site magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for post-operative imaging and 24 hour nursing care.

Ultrasonic Aspirator

Ultrasonic Aspirator

Foramen Magnum Decompression

This surgery is commonly performed to treat Chiari-like malformation (CM) and syringomyelia (SM).  In this procedure, a caudal occipital craniectomy +/- dorsal laminectomy of C1 is performed to decompress the spinal cord and cerebellum at the level of the foramen magnum, aid the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and slow the progression of the syrinx. This is accomplished by removing the back of the occipital bone and often the top of the first few vertebrae.

Ventriculoperitoneal Shunting

Ventriculoperitoneal shunting is a surgical procedure to treat excessive cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) buildup within the ventricular system of the brain (hydrocephalus).  This is a procedure in which our neurologists redirect excessive fluid from within your pet’s brain to the peritoneal space (abdomen). They do this through the use of a specialized catheter. A valve that is located on this catheter can then open to allow excess fluid build up in their brain to be relieved.

Puppies with a condition known as congenital hydrocephalus are the cases where this procedure is most often used. Your puppy will typically have a favorable prognosis after receiving this treatment with the possibility of a few complications.

Head Trauma

Rarely, brain surgery is indicated for head trauma to evacuate blood clots, skull fractures or foreign bodies (bullet, broken tooth, dirt/debris).  Prognosis depends on the severity of the injury and MRI findings.  Surgery may or may not be indicated in such a situation. It depends on how severe your pet’s head trauma is. The prognosis for such surgery is also highly dependent on what is revealed in an MRI scan about the severity of the injury.

MRI image of a small dog with head trauma after being bitten by a larger dog.  Note the bone fragment (single arrow) that is within the brain parenchyma.  The double arrows show the defect in the skull

Head Trauma

Our Technology

When you bring your pet to SEVN, you can be confident that you and your four-legged family member are in good hands. Founded in 2010, our veterinary neurology practice has an experienced staff who have performed numerous procedures over the years. When it comes to tools for diagnosing problems, we have the latest that veterinary medicine has to offer. This includes MRI scans that can detect and diagnose problems that many other technologies and tools cannot. If your pet is suffering from brain or other neurological issues, please contact our veterinary practice so we can get them back on the road to health.