Veterinarians Evaluate Adverse Reactions to Myelograms

For the most part, the adverse reactions were mild and self-limiting. But some serious ones did occur.
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Veterinarians Evaluate Adverse Reactions to Myelograms
Veterinarians often use myelograms—a type of radiographic examination during which the horse is placed under general anesthesia—to look for spinal cord compression. | Photo: University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center
When a veterinarian is concerned that a horse’s spinal cord could be compressed, he or she might order a myelogram—a type of radiographic examination during which the horse is placed under general anesthesia—to take a closer look. But some horses undergoing this diagnostic procedure develop additional problems in the form of adverse reactions. A team of researchers recently studied these reactions and determined that most of them weren’t severe.

“For the most part, the reactions were mild and self-limiting,” said study author Kathleen Mullen, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, an instructor in equine and farm animal internal medicine at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York.

During a cervical (neck) myelography, the veterinarian carefully inserts a spinal needle into the space between the skull and the first vertebrae (called the atlanto-occipital space) and removes a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for analysis. Then, he or she injects contrast material and takes neck radiographs.

In normal horses, the contrast should be evident along the entire length of the spinal cord in the neck, even when the neck is flexed or extended. A horse with a compressive lesion, however, will have less contrast where the spinal cord is compressed. Vertebrae deformities, developmental bone disease, osteoarthritis, trauma, or masses can cause cervical spinal cord compression in horses

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Written by:

Katie Navarra has worked as a freelance writer since 2001. A lifelong horse lover, she owns and enjoys competing a dun Quarter Horse mare.

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