Spinal disorders in dogs and cats | Online course | Quadam Veterinary
Ed. 4

Spinal disorders in dogs and cats  Ended


Online course

Many veterinary surgeons in private practice are not confident when confronted with an animal with suspected spinal disease. It is often wrongly assumed that these animals should be referred to specialist referral centres for further assessment and treatment. This course will show how much you can do yourself when evaluating dogs and cats with spinal disorders. You might be positively surprised when you realize how much difference you can make yourself for these patients.

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Quadam Veterinary

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This program has been approved for 24 hours of continuing education credit for veterinarians in jurisdictions that recognize RACE approval. Program number: 978134.

At the end of this course you will be comfortable when confronted with animals with suspected spinal disease. You’ll increase your knowledge, skills, and knowledge step by step when we advance through the consecutive lessons. You will initially learn how to recognize an animal with spinal disease and how to get more out of your neurological examination. You will learn that obtaining an accurate differential diagnosis is a key factor for becoming successful in evaluating animals with spinal disease. After obtaining a list of the most likely differential diagnoses for your patient, you can start thinking about specific diagnostic tests and treatment options. We will discuss further diagnostics with an emphasis on the role of spinal radiographs. You will become familiar with the advantages and limitations of spinal radiographs to diagnose spinal disorders. Spinal emergencies can be daunting and overwhelming. You will learn how to stay calm, recognize and treat non-surgical spinal emergencies and appreciate when and how to refer surgical spinal emergencies. Chronic spinal disorders are associated with different challenges; they can be difficult to recognize and little is known about their treatment. You will learn how to navigate the difficulties of recognizing animals with chronic spinal disease and we will discuss the most recent information on treatment options and outcome. Cats are affected by very different spinal disorders than dogs. You will appreciate that you should not only consider different disorders, but also a completely different diagnostic approach compared to dogs with spinal disease. Many of the suggested diagnostic steps can be performed in first opinion practice. Finally, we will discuss a diagnostic approach and the most common causes of neurogenic lameness. You will learn some tips and trick on how to differentiate orthopaedic from neurogenic lameness.

Lesson 1. How to recognize spinal disorders.

Learn how to recognize animals with spinal disease and differentiate spinal conditions from other conditions that can be associated with gait abnormalities. Familiarize yourself with the most important aspects of the neurological examination in animals with suspected spinal disease and use these findings to localise the lesion to a specific spinal cord segment. The secret of successfully managing spinal cord conditions in practice is identifying the most likely differential diagnoses (and not all possible differentials!!) for your individual patient. During this lesson you will learn how to get more out of your neurological examination and how to use specific clinical characteristics to narrow down your list of differentials.

Lesson 2. Further diagnostics in animals with spinal disease.

After you have recognized the presence of a spinal condition in your patient, you can start thinking about further diagnostics. During this lesson you will learn about the role of further diagnostics in practice. You will learn how to interpret spinal radiographs and how some spinal conditions can be diagnosed using this imaging modality. You will become familiar with clinically important, but also clinically irrelevant abnormalities on spinal radiographs. This will help you to understand how spinal radiographs can be suggestive (but not diagnostic) for some conditions, while they can provide misleading information for other. You will also learn about the basic principles, indications and limitations of other diagnostic techniques, such as myelography, computed tomography (CT scan) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan). Finally, you will be able to understand the usefulness of collecting a cerebrospinal fluid sample via a spinal tap in private practice.

Lesson 3. Spinal emergencies.

Spinal emergencies can be daunting and stressful. You will learn about the pathophysiology and important clinical concepts of animals with acute spinal emergencies. Understanding these concepts will help you to successfully approach and treat animals with acute spinal cord injury. You will learn about the most common spinal emergencies and how to use easy to recognize clinical characteristics to differentiate surgical from non-surgical spinal emergencies. Non-surgical spinal emergencies might be more common than you think and being able to recognize them will increase your confidence and satisfaction when dealing with animals with spinal disease. You might further be surprised about how animals with acute and severe spinal disease can still have a very good prognosis.

Lesson 4. Chronic spinal cord disease.

Although chronic spinal conditions occur commonly in clinical practice, they are less well characterized than acute spinal cord injuries. You will learn about the pathophysiology of chronic spinal cord compression and the associated clinical consequences. Chronic spinal cord conditions can be difficult to recognize and there is controversy about their treatment. You will become familiar and confident with the most common difficulties in recognizing and localizing chronic spinal disorders. You will further become up to date with the most recent information about treatment, outcome and prognosis.

Lesson 5. Feline spinal cord disease.

The phrase “cats are not small dogs” is very true for spinal cord conditions. You will first learn some tips on how to perform a neurological examination in our feline friends. After this lesson you will understand that cats are affected by very different spinal disorders than dogs. The most common spinal disorders in cats are very uncommon in dogs, while common canine spinal disorders are very rare in cats. You will learn that this does not only influences your list of most likely differential diagnoses, but will also have a big impact on the diagnostic approach of cats with spinal disease. You will realize that many diagnostic steps in cats with spinal disease can be performed in private practice.

Lesson 6. Approach and common causes of neurogenic lameness.

Although most animals with lameness have orthopaedic disease, some neurological disorders can also result in thoracic or pelvic limb lameness. You will learn the anatomy of neurogenic lameness and some tips on how to differentiate neurogenic from orthopaedic lameness. Although it can sometimes be difficult to recognise the underlying neurological nature of lameness, it is important to keep an open mind when failing to identify an orthopaedic cause for the observed clinical signs. After this lesson, you will have an understanding of the clinical characteristics, diagnosis and treatment of the most common causes of neurogenic lameness.

Last weeks: Case studies

The learning method:
1. Constant presence of the teacher during the entire duration of the course, available to answer any questions raised by the students.
2. The course is attended simultaneously by all students. Enhancing students’ sharing and participatory experience is a QUADAM hallmark.
3. All lessons are audiovisual and available at any time.

QUADAM specializes in developing high-quality online courses for veterinarians and provides rigorous, independent content in an appealing, user-friendly form. Our courses have no sponsorship arrangements with pharmaceutical laboratories, in order to avoid any possible commercial influences on course content, especially with regard to therapeutic aspects.


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13 Mar 2023
08 May 2023
8 weeks
3 h/w
390 USD


Steven De Decker
The Royal Veterinary College


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