What the doctor says . . .
From our veterinarian, Dr. Buchanan: "Casey is a 2 year old female donkey we examined for neurologic disease. Based on the neurologic exam, age, and history we were concerned about the possibility of a compression on her cervical spinal cord. We did a myelogram yesterday where we injected a dye into the area around the cord and look for compression. We were able to confirm a instability between the 3rd and 4th cervical vertebrae (C3-C4) that is dynamically compressing the cord. This is a congenital lesion that will not improve without intervention. We do not believe them to be painful, but it will always cause ataxia and weakness in both the front and rear limbs. John Janicek is one of my partners and one of the few surgeons in the world that can fix this. There is a procedure where we insert a metal basket between the two bones. That allows the bones to grow together and stops the compression. In athletic horses the success rate of improvement is ~80% and return to normal ~60%. In Casey’s case barring any complications, I believe the odds of recovery to normal would be very high. The equipment for her size will need to be special ordered. The cost of the surgery including the special equipment, John’s time, and after care for TMR would be ~$5,500 to $6,000. It is not something that has to be done today, but the sooner you do the stabilization the better the outcome. In the meantime I would like her turnout and keep her on a low dose of Bute while she is so weak in the rear. Casey will spend 10 days in the hospital and then Casey will be in a stall for 30 days after and then on the post-operative evaluation we will determine how much exercise to prescribe. It is the best thing to do for her especially considering her age."