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., Chiara-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 experience needed for the most complicated procedures that may be necessary for the health of your pet. With our sophisticated diagnostic equipment, we are able to determine if your pet has a neurological problem. Our veterinary surgeons have performed surgery to remedy these types of problems on numerous patients over the years. There may be many reasons your pet might require brain surgery, and our staff and diagnostic tools are second to none in getting to the root of the problem and laying out for you what needs to be done.

Surgical Removal Of Brain Tumors

You may be frightened when you first hear that your dog or cat has a brain tumor. Our staff does our best to help you through such a difficult time. We feel you should know that pets typically endure the treatment and recovery from brain tumors fairly well. For dogs and cats, the most common form of tumor in the brain is known as a meningioma. This is a tumor of the membrane that protects your spinal column and brain.

A primary brain tumor originates from cells normally found within the brain and its surrounding membranes. Examples include meningioma, astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, ependymoma and choroid plexus tumors.  A secondary brain tumor is either cancer that has spread to the brain (a process known as metastasis) from a primary tumor elsewhere in the body, or is a tumor that affects the brain by extending into brain tissue from an adjacent non-nervous system tissue, such as bone or the nasal cavity.

Our veterinary neurosurgeons have the tools and experience to diagnose and surgically treat this and many other types of brain tumors that may be afflicting your pet.

Why Does My Pet Need Brain Surgery?

There are certain problems that will 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. Diagnosis and surgical experience are paramount in importance when it comes to localizing and then fixing such problems.

The most common indication of a brain tumor in dogs is a seizure, especially seizures that begin for the first time in a dog older than five years of age. Other signs suggestive of a brain tumor include abnormal behavior (e.g., increased aggression), altered consciousness, hypersensitivity to pain or touch in the neck area, vision problems, propulsive circling motions, uncoordinated movement and a “drunken,” unsteady gait. Non-specific signs such as inappetence, lethargy and inappropriate urination may also be seen.

In cats, surgical removal of a meningioma can be curative.  In dogs with meningioma, and in both dogs and cats with other types of brain tumors, brain surgery can provide patients with improved quality of life, especially when followed by radiation therapy.

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

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

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.

This is the surgical procedure most commonly employed by our surgeons for treatment of Chiari-like malformation. This is the most common form of obstruction of the foramen magnum, which is the hole in the base of the skull through which the spinal cord passes. It’s also commonly used for SM, which is a condition where fluid fills cavities in the spinal cord. Basically, this procedure involves the removal of part of a bone in the skull and often the first few vertebrae from the spine. This enables a decompression of the cerebellum and the spinal cord and greatly relieves the problem.

Ventriculoperitoneal Shunting

Ventriculoperitoneal shunting is a surgical procedure to treat excessive cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) buildup within the ventricular system of the brain.  This is a procedure in which our surgeons drain fluid from the ventricular system in your pet’s brain. They do this through the use of a specialized catheter, and they drain this fluid into their peritoneal cavity or abdomen. A valve is located on this catheter that runs from their brain to their abdomen, which can then open to allow excess pressure build up in their brain to be relived through the draining of this fluid into their abdomen.

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 areas 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 friend 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.