ISSN 2398-2985      

Paresis / paralysis

4ferrets

Introduction

  • Definition: the terms paresis and paralysis refer respectively to the partial or complete loss of motor function in one or more limbs:
    • Paraparesis/paraplegia refers to the weakness or absence of voluntary movement in the pelvic limbs. This is the most common presentation in ferrets.
    • Quadriparesis/quadriplegia (tetraparesis/tetraplegia) refers to the weakness or absence of voluntary movement in all limbs.
    • Hemiparesis refers to motor dysfunction of two limbs on the same side.
    • Monoparesis refers to motor dysfunction of a single limb.
  • Cause: posterior paresis may be a manifestation of many systemic disease processes, in particular with insulinoma and cardiac disease. Also, infectious meningitis/encephalitis (bacterial, viral), neoplasia of brain/spinal cord, abscess in central nervous system (CNS), cerebrovascular accident, toxoplasmosis, toxicosis: lead, Clostridium botulinum, organophosphate if there is a history of ingestion or exposure.
  • Signs: can be peracute, acute, chronic, intermittent, static or progressive. Abnormal gait, use of limb(s). Can include falling, dragging a limb(s), leaning to one side, inability to stand or walk.
  • Diagnosis: neurologic examination; CBC/chemistries; specific bloodwork for lead levels, cholinesterase testing; radiography, including skull to evaluate bullae disease (radiography is considered a poor diagnostic tool for imaging of tympanic bullae or visualization of fluid within the cavity, CT and MRI are superior and should be recommended). Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate brain infiltrate, spinal cord compression, bony lesions. CSF: collect from cisterna magna. Electromyelogram/nerve conduction velocity (EMG/NCV) to compare affected limb to unaffected.
  • Treatment: hospitalize if neurologic signs, non-ambulatory, severe infections, anorexia. Supportive care includes fluid therapy, nutritional support, activity restriction. Analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). Broad-spectrum antibiotics that penetrate the CNS if suspected or confirmed bacterial infection. Surgical repair of spinal fractures or trauma: may be of limited value.
  • Prognosis: depends on etiology. Poor: loss of deep pain perception.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Paresis is the loss of power of voluntary movement; it is also called partial paralysis.
  • Paralysis is the loss of voluntary motor function.
  • Quantifying (paresis or plegia):
    • Mono: one limb affected.
    • Hemi: both limbs on the same side of the body affected.
    • Para: both pelvic limbs affected.
    • Quadri or tetra: all four limbs affected.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Trauma from improper handling or housing which results in fractures or luxations.

Specific

  • Existing skeletal abnormalities such as arthritis, spondylosis which may compromise neuromuscular function.
  • Hypoglycemia.

Pathophysiology

Lesions of the central and/or peripheral nervous system

  • CNS (brain, spinal cord):
    • Cell bodies and nuclei in the brain are responsible for initiating movement.
    • Axons transmit impulses to various locations in the spinal cord.
  • PNS (sensory, motor neurons innervating various muscle groups):
    • Impulses to the limbs received from the spinal cord through the ventral nerve roots into spinal nerves and then to peripheral nerves.
    • Collections of lower motor neurons (LMN), divergence to the peripheral nerves of the limbs is in the cervical intumescence and the lumbar intumescence.
    • Upper motor neurons (UMN): maintain muscle tone, normal spinal reflexes:
      • Control or inhibit LMNs.
      • When injured, spinal reflexes no longer inhibited: loss or decrease of voluntary movement.
  • Hyperreflexia: LMN and peripheral nerves maintain muscle tone, control spinal reflexes. When injured: loss or decreased movement; diminished or absent reflexes.
  • Spinal reflexes: peripheral nerve function and local spinal cord segment evaluation. Do not involve conscious awareness of a stimulus.
Muscle wasting will occur from disuse in as little as 5-7 days.

Timecourse

  • Depends on etiology.
  • If there is neurologic damage, muscle disuse atrophy and wasting occurs in as little as 5-7 days.
  • Trauma: onset of signs may be immediate.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Mancinelli E (2015) Neurologic examination and diagnostic testing in rabbits, ferrets, and rodents. J Exotic Pet Med 24 (1), 52-64 SciDirect.

Other sources of information

  • Huynh M & Piazza S (2012) Ferrets: Musculoskeletal and Neurologic Diseases. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 4th edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E, Orcutt C J, Mans C & Carpenter J W. Elsevier, USA. pp 117-130. 
  • Lewis W (2009) Ferrets: Nervous and Musculoskeletal Disorders. In: BSAVA Manual of Rodents and Ferrets. Eds: Keeble E & Meredith A. BSAVA, UK. pp 303-310.

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