Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy Average Cost

From 245 quotes ranging from $2,000 - 8,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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What is Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy?

FCE can happen in any breed, age or size of dog. There are no predispositions that make one dog more susceptible to it than another. Many dogs present with having yelped earlier that day or week and now cannot use a limb, walk, or stand. While this is a very scary situation for pet owners, studies have shown many of these animals can recover with aggressive physical therapy.

Fibrocartilaginous embolic myelopathy (FCE) in dogs is commonly known as a spinal cord stroke. If your dog loses the ability to stand or walk, you should treat it as a medical emergency and get to a veterinarian.

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Symptoms of Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy in Dogs

Symptoms can appear abruptly and may include:

  • Abrupt loss of limb function (one limb, both pelvic limbs, one side of the body, all four limbs)
  • In most cases, one side of the body is affected more severely than the other

Types

FCE is a type all its own. However, the location and the affected area can vary. The blockage can occur anywhere along the spinal cord and can affect any region associated with it.

Causes of Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy in Dogs

FCE is when a piece of fibrous cartilage enters the vertebral blood vessel. The piece blocks the vessel and ultimately causes a “stroke” of the spinal cord. When this happens, blood flow and is cut off as well as oxygen and nutrients the spinal cord needs. This loss of flow leads to the symptoms you see in your dog.

Diagnosis of Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy in Dogs

Diagnosing FCE in dogs usually based on a collection of history and symptoms your dog is experiencing. In many cases of FCE, the dog is mentioned to have been running, jumping, or doing something active, yelped all of a sudden, and seemed to have pain at first but then is fine. Afterwards, whether it be a few hours or days, the dog suddenly develops some sort of loss of limb function. This is the stereotypical case of FCE in dogs. 

Your veterinarian may want to take radiographs to rule out a spinal fracture or other injury. The only way to definitively diagnose FCE in your dog is with an MRI. These require a specialized hospital and veterinarian. 

Blood work will be performed to give the veterinarian a broad look as to how the internal organs are functioning and to rule out other possible causes of his symptoms. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with needed information for proper assessment of organ function. A packed cell volume (PCV) may also be performed to determine hydration status.

Treatment of Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy in Dogs

There is no specific therapy treatment for FCE in dogs. There is no way for a veterinarian to remove the fibrocartilage blocking the spinal cord blood vessel. You must give your dog time to heal and for his body to recover from the event. In some cases, if given enough time, the blood vessel is able to open up or the spinal cord is able to make a new one. 

Depending on the severity of your dog’s immobilization, you will likely need to do some degree of home care. Putting your dog through passive range of motion to improve strength and coordination is something you as an owner can do at home. There are other physical therapy exercises you can do at home, or you can find a clinic that offers it for your dog. 

Other therapies such as acupuncture or laser therapy have also been documented to help. However, since these methods are considered alternative, they aren’t always suggested but only because not many clinics or veterinarians are trained in the use of such methods.

If your dog is completely immobilized, you will have to do extensive home care. This includes, repositioning him every 4 to 6 hours to avoid the formation of bedsores, you may have to express his bladder for him if he cannot do it himself, and he may not have control over his bowel movements meaning you will have to clean him.

Recovery of Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy in Dogs

The MRI can give the veterinarian, and you, a diagnosis of the likelihood of limb function returning. It will give a better image of the area affected and what your dog’s chances are at a recovery. 

The healing process can take a long time.  There is no promise of recovery and prognosis can be optimistic to poor. You have to take into consideration the quality of life it is for your dog. However, do not give up on your dog. If you do the recommended treatments at home or in a clinic, your dog has a strong chance at a full recovery.

Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Max
Australian Shepherd
11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Our dog Max 11 year old Aussie slipped on some snow/ice,yelped and then couldn't get up. Noted right hind leg limp and couldn't bear weight.Initially required assist to get back into the house,right leg drag, took to Vet ER, X-rays neg. Saw neurologist next day. Wants to rule out,slip/ruptured disc vs tumor. Doesn't feel its a tumor. MRI scheduled in a few days, with possible surgery. On Predisone,gabapentin,pilosec & misoprostol, along with rest.No problem with bowels or bladder.Doing research and came across Fibrocartilaginoue Embolic myelopathy. I am thinking this matches what Max has.
It seems like recovery will be long if at all vs surgery for a disc ruptured.I guess I am more worried about the Dx of FEM due to recovery.Probably being selfish but we have a planned a vacation in 3 weeks which has been 1 year in the planning. We love our Max and am worried about who will want to take on this care responsibility.Do you think this could be FEM vs a ruptured disc?
thanks

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1416 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Without knowing more about max, and his current status I have no way to comment on whether he may have a disc problem, or a FCEM. FCEM's are less likely to be caused by a trauma, but if isn't impossible. His MRI will tell you more about what is going on with him, so that you can plan accordingly.

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Dani
Boxer
4 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

fibrocartilaginouse

Medication Used

prednisone

Hi, a few weeks ago my dog was diagnose with Fibrocartilaginous. This was based on the symptoms they found. She had surgery to remove a skin mole on her shoulder and almost a week later she was not acting herself. Another week went by and I took her into my vet. They gave her Ant-inflammatory and muscle relaxers. 3 Days after that her left leg went out. The vet suggested a neurologist. The vet that worked with the specialist says FCE. A day after this visit both legs stopped functioning. I have been working her back legs at home for the last Week or so. This was a slow spiral not just over night. I have seen no improvements in her legs.. they just seem to be weaker. Her right leg was stronger now it's starting to look like her left. I have been given no real direction on what to do but MRI and to keep doing what I'm doing. This is very hard to do because she panics whenever I try to get her to lay down and it becomes a debacle. She can't hold her poop. I don't know if she realizes she's pooping. Any advise will be helpful please. Feeling sort of lost here. I do have an appointment with a therapist at the Paws rehab water clinic.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1416 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that that is happening to Dani. Without examining her, I can't really comment on what might be going on, but I think that following up with the specialist and talking with the physical therapist are both positive things to do. FCEM can act very unpredictably, as they cut off blood supply suddenly to a nerve or nerves, and depending on the severity, can recover or not. If you can do the MRI, that is the best test to assess nerve function and know what to expect. I hope that Dani improves.

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Cosmo
Beagle
8 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

hard time sitting

Medication Used

none

A year ago he was diagnosed with a spinal stroke and made a full recovery. The symptoms were classic. Now we are seeing reoccurring problems but not with the painful event and the symptoms are not as severe. But what we see is a completely limp tail, gingerly walking and hard time sitting. It usually goes back to normal within a day or two. It is happening more frequently.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3004 Recommendations

Fibrocartilaginous embolisms are not normally associated with pain directly, but secondary and the affected lameness is usually unilateral (although both sides can be affected). If you are noticing these symptoms are often, it would be best to restrict movement and to reduce walks and only walk him on a leash. If the problem persists, visit your Veterinarian during an episode to confirm and ask about physiotherapy. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Meli
Labrador Retriever
4 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Paralysis
Incontinence

Our 4 yr old lab went down in the middle of January with an FCE and is paralyzed in her back 2 legs. We have been taking her to the chiropractor and to PT since the beginning of February. She has shown a lot of improvement, she is staring to put her legs underneath her to get up and is moving her back legs to try to walk, and we are willing to keep at it. We were told by our physical therapist last night that the best we can hope for is that she will be able to spine walk. We are not worried about her walking again, we are willing to get a cart, however we need her to regain control of her bowels. Can dogs with an FCE ever recover their bowels?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1416 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. It sounds like you are doing everything that you can for Meli at this point. Whether she regains bowel control depends on the extent of damage from the FCEM. If it has been 3 months since the injury and she has not regained control, it seems unlikely at this point that she will, but that would be a question better asked of your veterinarian, as they can test her anal tone and determine if there is any improvement. I hope that she continues to recover.

Can a dog die from this there has been a few dogs in the niehbor hood including ours that became paralyzed in both hind legs.n then died week later .

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Cole
Saint Bernard
9 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Difficulty Walking

My 9 year old St. Bernard recently suffered a spinal embolism playing in the yard with my other dogs. His diagnosis was based on my vet's observation and Cole's symptoms, including sudden loss of use of his hind end, with seemingly no pain. I did not have an MRI done, not only because of cost, but vet visits are very difficult these days. Getting him in and out of the car is nearly impossible, and he is very stressed out in the process, causing him seizures (he is epileptic). I have a wonderful vet that always helps via telephone or text messages with video.
After about 3 weeks, he slowly began to show signs of improvement in his ability to get up and walk. He made a great improvement relatively quickly, but this last week he seems to be regressing. He is having a hard time getting up and has very little endurance. Throughout it all, he has maintained a very healthy appetite and water consumption is normal. Lately, he is very clingy and whiny. He still doesn't seem to be in any pain, but more of aggravated or confused. He has always been a "velcro dog" but now whines and wants help getting up every time I leave the room. He also seems very restless.
I'm curious if it is normal to make progress an then regress in recovery.

I will add, he has battled epilepsy since 13 months old and has had 2 strokes (that I know of) in the last year and a half. He also has a bit of dementia at times.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1416 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I don't think it would be expected for the improvement from the embolus to regress, but I do think it is possible that he may have other factors, like bone or joint disease or arthritis, given his age, that are complicating his recovery . Physical therapy may be very helpful for him, and your veterinarian may be able to recommend a therapist to come to you, I'm not sure if that is available in your area, but may be worth looking into I hope that he continues to make a steady recovery.

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Ruby
Blue Heeler
10 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

My cattle dog is making a good recovery, FCE happened 4 months ago and she can now walk ok( abit wobbly). Is light exercise ok for her now or should I keep her rested?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1416 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Typically, getting her moving and preventing muscle atrophy is a good idea after an FCE event is a good idea, but without knowing her specific situation or history, I can't comment on whether exercise is best for Ruby - it would be best to follow up with your veterinarian to get their opinion on whether she would benefit from regular exercise. i hope that she does well.

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