Neurologic Horses (Ataxia)

At CEO, many horses present for evaluation of lameness or gait deficits that may actually show ataxia or neurologic deficits.  Evaluation of neurologic deficits are difficult because the examination is so subjective.

Signs of possible ataxia:

  • Stumbling
  • Falling (even to the knees)
  • "Wandering" lameness (ie LF today, LH next week)
  • "Nondescript" performance issues
  • Neck stiffness
  • Difficulty going downhill

All horses that present to CEO for lameness examination or nuclear scintigraphy are evaluated for ataxia.  Although subjective, the examination includes enough different tests to give us an idea of the neurologic status.

Some of these tests include:

  • Traversing a subtle hill (head neutral and raised)
  • Circling
  • Leg Crossing
  • Tail Sway
  • Passive neck flexion
Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 10.36.22 PM

It can be difficult to rule out problems in the cervical region without the screening tool of nuclear scintigraphy (above), as these areas are easily highlighted by increased radiopharmaceutical uptake (arrow above).  Radiography alone can be used to document some cases of cervical arthropathy.  Radiography can highlight enlarged facets (arrow below), previous trauma (such as fracture) or entheseous bone formation and narrowing of the spinal canal, although these findings may not always carry clinical significance.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 10.37.36 PM

Screenshot 2014-11-02 20.45.28

Hill Test- Head Neutral

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Hill Test- Head Elevated

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Tight Circles

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Legs Crossed

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Legs Wide

See Cervical Injections

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