Author(s): Flegel T, Oevermann A, Oechtering G, Matiasek K
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Abstract BACKGROUND: The diagnosis of encephalitis is usually presumptive based on MRI, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, or both. A definitive diagnosis based on histopathology, however, is required for optimizing treatment strategies. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the diagnostic yield and adverse effects of minimally invasive brain biopsies in dogs with encephalitis. ANIMALS: Seventeen dogs with suspected encephalitis, based on MR imaging and cerebrospinal fluid analysis. METHODS: Retrospective study. Minimally invasive, free-hand brain biopsy specimens were taken from forebrain lesions through a 4-mm burr hole using a Sedan side-cutting needle. Routine histopathological examination was performed. The adverse effects were assessed by MRI evaluations after biopsy procedure (12/17) and by sequential neurological examinations. RESULTS: The overall diagnostic yield with regard to a specific type of encephalitis was 82\%. Encephalitis was evident in an additional 12\%, but a specific disease could not be determined. There were no deaths caused by the biopsy procedure itself, but the indirect case fatality rate was 6\%. Morbidity was 29\%, including stupor, seizures, tetraparesis, hemiparesis, ataxia, and loss of conscious proprioception. All these signs resolved within 3-14 days. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: Minimally invasive brain biopsy in dogs with suspected encephalitis leads to a definite diagnosis in the majority of dogs, allowing for a specific treatment. The advantages of a definite diagnosis outweigh potential case fatality rate and temporary neurological deficits. Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
This article was published in J Vet Intern Med
and referenced in Journal of Veterinary Science & Technology