Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE) in dogs refers to a sudden and non-inflammatory injury to the spinal cord. This condition occurs when fibrocartilaginous material, which is a part of the intervertebral disc, enters the blood vessels supplying the spinal cord. This material can block blood flow to a specific area of the spinal cord, leading to an ischemic injury (lack of blood supply).
Key features of FCE include:
Sudden Onset: FCE typically occurs suddenly without warning.
Non-Inflammatory: Unlike some other spinal cord conditions, FCE is not characterized by inflammation.
Localized Damage: The injury is often localized to a specific area of the spinal cord, resulting in neurological deficits below that point.
Variable Severity: The severity of FCE can vary. In some cases, it may cause mild or temporary symptoms, while in others, it can lead to more significant and lasting issues.
Symptoms of FCE can include sudden hind limb weakness, paresis or paralysis, loss of coordination, and ataxia. The affected dog may struggle to stand or walk properly. The symptoms are usually observed on one side of the body.
Diagnosis of FCE is typically based on clinical signs, neurological examination, and ruling out other potential causes. Imaging studies, such as MRI or CT scans, may be used to visualize the spinal cord and rule out other neurological diseases, confirming the diagnosis.
Treatment for FCE involves supportive care, including rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical rehabilitation. The use of a dog back brace may be considered to provide additional support to the spine during the recovery period.
While some dogs may experience partial or full recovery, the prognosis can vary, and individual cases should be assessed by a veterinarian for appropriate management.