Charlie undergoes spinal microsurgery

veterinary neurology specialist case

Charlie is a lovely 7 month-old Bulldog who was presented to the specialist neurology team at Northwest Veterinary Specialists for investigation of abnormal walking and discomfort over his pelvis. This is his story of successful spinal microsurgery.

Lorenzo Golini, RCVS & European Specialist in Veterinary Neurology examined Charlie with his owners. In order to confirm Lorenzo’s clinical suspicion Charlie underwent an MRI scan. The MRI scanner is essentially a large magnet which aligns the water molecules in the body to produce images of the area under investigation. At Northwest Veterinary Specialists our MRI scanner is run by our nurse technicians. After the consultation Charlie was examined by one of our specialist anaesthetists to prepare his for his anaesthetic for the MRI scan. Read more about MRI here.

MRI scans of Charlie’s lumbosacral spine revealed a meningocele . This is a protrusion of the membranes that cover the spinal cord (meninges) through a bone defect in the vertebral column (usually the vertebral arch).

Charlie underwent neurosurgery to remove part of the meningocele and to release the trapped spinal tissue from the surrounding abnormal soft tissues. The surgery was performed using a neurosurgical operating microscope. This specialised spinal microsurgery.  equipment allows our neurosurgeons to magnify the operating site to improve accuracy of dissection. Without the surgical microscope it would have been very challenging, if not impossible, to correct Charlie’s problem. 

We are one of the few veterinary hospitals using a neurosurgical microscope for spinal and brain surgery in small animals. In small animal neurosurgery, it is almost essential to have both excellent lighting and magnification, especially when dissecting close to the spinal cord. The surgical microscope features brilliant illumination and customisable options to offer the quality and reliability needed to perform outstanding neurosurgery in small animals. This new surgical tool has already allowed our neurosurgeons to perform complex minimally-invasive spinal cord and brain surgeries.

Our philosophy: “The neurosurgical microscope is used for spinal cord and brain surgeries in humans who are way bigger than our small animals. So why do not use this technology to carry out neurosurgery in small animals and push the surgical boundaries beyond what seems possible?”

Following surgery Charlie was kept under close observation by specialist anaesthetist Liz Leece who managed his pain to ensure he remained comfortable. With excellent pain control Charlie was happy overnight and into the next day. Our team of 24hr nurses and animal care assistants cared for Charlie during his stay with us. His return to good neurological function was monitored closely by the neurology team and Charlie is currently very happy at home.

Northwest Veterinary Specialists has a team of three RCVS & European Veterinary Specialists in Neurology supported by a team of imaging technicians and specialist anaesthetists.