Current Concepts

Current Concepts in the Management of Congestive Heart Failure

Heart failure is often the outcome for a variety of diseases in cats and dogs, with the exceptions of congenital disease (e.g., PDA) or certain acquired diseases, like taurine deficiency and idiopathic pericarditis.There is no cure for heart failure, therefore, treatment is determined by improving  clinical signs and improving the quality of life. Treatment options may vary based on the underlying type of disease (e.g., hypertrophic cardiomyopathy versus chronic valvular disease) and it may be more essential to treat the body’s response to the failing heart rather than the appearance of the heart itself. Continue reading


MR spectroscopy: Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), also known as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, is a non-invasive analytical technique that has been used to study metabolic changes in brain tumors, strokes and other diseases affecting the brain. Dr. March is currently leading a clinical trial to evaluate the use of the technique for the definitive diagnosis of primary brain tumors and strokes.

Stem cell therapy for immune-mediated meningoencephalitis: Dr. March is conducting a trial designed to determine whether after initial stabilization with current treatment approaches, stem cell therapy allows dogs to remain in clinical remission.

Intervertebral disk disease: Dr. Faissler recently completed a clinical trial evaluating the use of trophic factors such as platelet rich plasma and erythropoietin for stimulating spinal cord repair in paraplegic dogs with loss of pain perception in both hind legs – analysis of the results is pending.  We are planning and continuing to explore  novel treatment options for dogs with severe spinal cord damage, including stem cell transplantation. Under the supervision of Dr. Faissler, Dr. Sutton is investigating prognostic factors for paralyzed dogs with intervertebral disk herniation. Our hypothesis is that the degree of dispersion of extruded disk material correlates with outcome.

Brain surgery:  Dr. Faissler has introduced intracranial pressure (ICP) during and, most importantly, after brain surgery.  Knowledge of ICP has improved patient outcomes. Dr. Faissler has also developed a technique for closing large skull defects resulting from cranioectomies which uses a combination of titanium and bone cement. Because titanium is non-ferromagnetic, MRI for assessment of tumor control can be performed during the postoperative period.

Clinical Case Challenge

Case description

Figure 1: A saggital T2 - weighted view of brain and upper spinal cord. The abnormal findings include generalized enlargement of the ventricular system and significant central intramedullary hyperintensity over C1 and C2.

Figure 1: A saggital T2 – weighted view of brain and upper spinal cord. The abnormal findings include generalized enlargement of the ventricular system and significant central intramedullary hyperintensity over C1 and C2.

A 1.5 year old neutered Labrador retriever, Rimadyl, presented to the Neurology Service at Tufts Foster Hospital for Small Animals for a two week history of neck pain. Rimadyl improved for about one week, however, clinical signs then progressed with an uncoordinated gait and dragging of all four legs. Continue reading

At Your Service

The Neurology Team at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals

Our goal is to offer the best treatment and care for dogs and cats with neurological disorders – including brain, spinal cord, muscle and nerve diseases -seven days a week. New appointments are available on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Re-checks are seen on Fridays. All appointments can be scheduled by calling 508-887-4696. On weekends and holidays we are available for consultations via the emergency/critical care service. Surgical procedures, EMG and nerve conduction studies and hearing tests are performed every weekday except Tuesday. MRI, a highly effective, commonly used test for brain and spinal diseases, is available daily from 9am-5 pm.

Picture 1 - Neurology service Pick 006 c

The neurology team is comprised of 2 faculty neurologists, 3 neurology residents and 2 certified veterinary technicians.

Phil March, DVM, MS, DACVIM, a graduate of Ohio State University, finished his neurology residency at Tufts University in 1991. After working as a neurologist for years he returned to Tufts University in 2006. His major clinical interest is medical neurology including epilepsy, brain tumors, meningoencephalitis and syringohydromyelia.

Dominik Faissler, DVM, DECVN, a graduate of the University of Bern, Switzerland finished his neurology residency at the University of Bern in 1997. He joined Tufts in the fall of 2000. He is a dedicated neurologist and neurosurgeon. His major interests include brain tumors, chronic cervical spinal cord compression and intervertebral disk disease. Continue reading