Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Diagnostic Tests Are Only As Good As Their Interpretation: R.G.'s Hind End Lameness

This case is quite close to my heart, as we just recently dealt with spinal issues as well.

R.G., a German Shepherd, suddenly became lame on her rear end.

She got an MRI done and her parents were told that she had a herniated discs of the lower spine.

A second opinion orthopedic surgeon confirmed the diagnosis and recommended surgery.

Because this kind of surgery is quite invasive and risky, R.G.'s parents decided to try conservative management first. 

R.G. was treated with acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy and hydrotherapy for three months. Unfortunately, she continued to get worse and ended up in a doggy wheelchair.

Her parents decided to get a consultation with a neurology specialist.

When the neurologist reviewed the MRI, it turned out that R.G. did not have a disc problem at all, but a cyst on her spinal cord instead!

Without surgery, the cyst would put increasing pressure on the spinal cord and R.G. would continue to deteriorate. With a surgery to drain the cyst, R.G. should not get any worse and fifty percent chance of improvement.

In hopes to keep R.G. from getting worse, her parents agreed to the surgery. Perhaps, R.G. could get some mobility back too.

The surgery went well and R.G. regained some mobility!

She still needs a lot of physical therapy but she started to walk without her cart! Hopefully, over time, she will keep improving.

How much shorter her recovery might have been was the MRI read correctly the first time? How much time and resources were lost and how much suffering could have been avoided?

What would have happened if R.G.'s parents did not seek a third opinion?

Original story:
Misdiagnosis…Listen to Your Gut Instincts!

1 comment

  1. Wow, a good cautionary tale. Just as we seek 2nd opinions for our own serious health conditions, obviously it's good to do for your doggies! No one is infallable - it's good to remember that.