Brachial Plexus Avulsion in Dogs

Brachial Plexus Avulsion in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Brachial Plexus Avulsion in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Brachial Plexus Avulsion?

You may notice that your dog begins to limp or have a limb that drops. This may follow an injury and may impact any of his limbs. The drop may be a noticeable inability in flexing and controlling the limb and therefore it just hangs there.

This injury can look similar to a less severe injury, or your dog may not want to put pressure on a broken bone or cut. Your dog may not appear to be in any pain making it difficult to identify what is going on.

The brachial plexus are the last 3 cervical and first 2 thoracic nerves in your dog’s spine which impacts his shoulders. When these nerves are torn, ripped or injured it is referred to as an avulsion. This tends to happen if your dog is hit by a car, or if he falls and there is displacement of the thoracic (backbone) limbs.

Brachial Plexus Avulsion Average Cost

From 290 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,800

Symptoms of Brachial Plexus Avulsion in Dogs

Symptoms will include the loss of use of your dog’s limbs, changes in his behavior, and other possible medical symptoms.

  • Horner’s Syndrome (drooping eye, small pupil, sunken in eye, prominent third eyelid)
  • Paralysis of a limb
  • Difficulty controlling a limb
  • Limbs dragging
  • Not putting weight on a limb
  • Lack of pain or significant pain when examined 

Types

There are three types of brachial plexus avulsion and they are dependent on what part of the spine is impacted.

Cranial avulsions (C6-C7)

  • Rare
  • Few clinical signs and symptoms
  • Your dog will most likely be able to bear weight on the limb
  • Loss of shoulder movement

Caudal avulsions (C8-T2)

  • More common
  • Cause severe clinical signs
  • Your dog may not be able to extend his elbow or bear weight 
  • Dragging of the limb 
  • May carry the limb flexed off the ground

Complete avulsions (C6-T2)

  • Sensory signs are common
  • Partial Horner’s Syndrome
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Brachial Plexus Avulsion in Dogs

The cause of brachial plexus avulsion is typically an injury, however there are other causes of the condition as well:

  • If your dog was hit by a car
  • If your dog fell from a significant height
  • If your dog was grabbed incorrectly or roughly
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Endocrine system disorders
  • Immunization side effect
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Brachial Plexus Avulsion in Dogs

If you begin to notice that your dog is not putting weight on a limb, dragging a limb, or if there was recent injury, you will want to contact your veterinarian. It will be important to go to your veterinarian or emergency veterinarian prepared to share any recent injuries, falls or events such as if your dog was hit by a car. 

Your veterinarian will want to perform a full body exam to determine any obvious injuries or signs of brachial plexus avulsion. Your veterinarian will want to test your dog’s nerve reactions and see if there is any damage. This may include testing if your dog feels pain when pinched or poked. 

Your veterinarian may want to perform an MRI as it is the imaging tool of choice to determine a brachial plexus injury. Electrodiagnosis testing can also be performed, this test will involve inserting a needle into your dog’s muscle to see how it responds to stimuli. This will help your veterinarian to determine the cause of your dog’s limb concerns 7 to 10 days’ post injury.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Brachial Plexus Avulsion in Dogs

Treatment options are unfortunately limited and long term prognosis is not promising. Your veterinarian may suggest surgery to try and correct some of the damage done to your dog’s nerve endings. It should be noted that if it is a full avulsion (full tearing of your dog’s nerve endings from the spinal cord) the prognosis is poor.

Surgery

Surgery can be done to repair some of the damage done to your dog’s nerve endings. Some of the surgery options are: coaptation splintage, tendon transposition, nerve transposition, ankyloses and amputation. The splintage is done to prevent your dog from harming his limb and is done along with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications.

Tendon transposition is done by cutting the tendons and either reconnecting them or loosening them to provide your dog with more use of the limb. Nerve transposition is done by reattaching the nerves to other places to try and provide your dog with some of use of his limbs. Amputation may be suggested if your dog will be dragging the limb causing it ongoing injury or if he is self-mutilating the limb. Long term prognosis is poor for full avulsion, however for partial there is a possibility for recovery with treatment.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Worried about the cost of Brachial Plexus Avulsion treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Brachial Plexus Avulsion in Dogs

Your dog will most likely need ongoing care depending on the severity of his brachial plexus injury. These appointments will be done to determine his condition is getting any worse or if there is any improvement. 

Should he have surgery there will be follow up need per the direction of your veterinarian. A full recovery can be expected within 2 months of surgery. Your veterinarian may also suggest physical therapy once surgery is done and also to try and recover some function.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Brachial Plexus Avulsion Average Cost

From 290 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,800

arrow-up-icon

Top

Brachial Plexus Avulsion Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

dog-name-icon

Henry

dog-breed-icon

lab/shep

dog-age-icon

unknown older, than 5

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

I work at a veterinary clinic, I took in a hit by car dog who's owner refused to come claim. He was diagnosed at the E with brachial nerve injury. The vets at my own hospital have concurred. Left shoulder is flaccid and non responsive. I was told 'give it 6 months, then amputate.' I don't feel this dog would make a good tripod as he is weak on the hind end as well. Age unknown. Clearly cared for as he is ematiated, unneutered with alopecia, fleas, possible mange. I want to help this dog as he is a very sweet lab/shep mix. There has been no recommendation of nerve attaching surgeries, etc etc and possibly because there is no one to pay his bill. I am willing to set up a donation for him but what kind of money are we talking for these specialized surgeries (is it worth trying if it doesn't work?) I would like to know your thoughts on Electro stimulation acupuncture?? Do you see this useful? I just can't sit and wait for 6 months without being proactive. Affordable suggestions for a dog with no owner? Here he is in this video I've made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOVgJ1NtyqY Thank you! Elizabeth

Sept. 19, 2017

Henry's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

From the video, Henry’s leg looks completely flaccid and from the video, I doubt if he gets any sensation back. The problem with these types of injuries are that if the nerves are stretched and bruised, the prognosis is favourable; but in avulsion the nerves are ripped apart there is no course of action for repair (try looking at cloth which is cut and sewn together compared to something ripped without any regard). Amputation is normally the outcome for cases which don’t show improvement; whilst Henry is not showing much strength at the moment, I am sure that he will gain strength as he receives are and his body condition score increases. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.vetstream.com/treat/canis/diseases/brachial-plexus-avulsion www.msdvetmanual.com/nervous-system/diseases-of-the-peripheral-nerves-and-neuromuscular-junction/trauma-of-the-peripheral-nerve-and-neuromuscular-junction#v26305049

Sept. 19, 2017

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Tappie

dog-breed-icon

Huntaway Greyhound Cross

dog-age-icon

7 Days

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

Has Symptoms

As Above

Brachial plexus avulsion has been loosely diagnosed in my large huntaway/greyhound x severe wasting to left scapula area and foreleg, standing with foot slightly knuckled under, unable to extend forelimb from elbow himself and appears to have pain. Very pronounced limp mornings and evenings more so than usual with the above problems. Still uses the limb to balance but that's about all. Lies down a lot, sleeps a lot. Amputation has been suggested but am worried it will cause him more nerve pain. Not injuring the leg or foot yet and haven't splinted or booted the leg and foot yet. Your thoughts??

Sept. 5, 2017

Tappie's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Brachial plexus avulsion is a serious condition which is irreversible in complete cases where the nerves are completely torn from their attachment to the spinal cord which results in a flaccid limb; Tappie’s limb isn’t flaccid but if there are only some tearing with other nerves being intact or bruised then prognosis is difficult to evaluate. Many cases of brachial plexus avulsion end up with amputation; there is no treatment (splinting and booting are useless in these cases), in mild cases rest is best but may take a long time to see improvement if any. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/nervous-system/diseases-of-the-peripheral-nerves-and-neuromuscular-junction/trauma-of-the-peripheral-nerve-and-neuromuscular-junction

Sept. 5, 2017

Was this experience helpful?

Brachial Plexus Avulsion Average Cost

From 290 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,800

Need pet insurance?
Need pet insurance?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.