Equis ISSN 2398-2977

Neurology: post-foaling paralysis

Contributor(s): Graham Munroe, Michael Porter

Introduction

  • An infrequent sequel to foaling of hindlimb weakness through to paralysis.
  • Cause: compression of the nerves within the pelvic canal of the mare during parturition.
  • Signs: mild stiffness to paraplegia.
  • Diagnosis: history of parturition/dystocia and clinical signs.
  • Treatment: anti-inflammatory and supportive therapy.
  • Prognosis: fair - 50% recover in days/weeks.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Compression of the mares obturator nerve during parturition.

Specific

Pathophysiology

  • Various nerves within the pelvic canal are vulnerable to compression from bony parts of the foal during parturition:
    • The obturator nerve (   →   adductor muscles of thigh) as it courses along the medial aspect of the shaft of the ilium. 
    • A nervous web which lies against the ventral aspect of the sacrum giving rise to the following nerves:
      • Sciatic (   →   main extensor muscles of hip and flexors of stifle).
      • Cranial gluteal.
      • Caudal gluteal.
  • Rarely the femoral nerves (   →   major extensor muscles of stifle) can be involved by hemorrhage in and around them.
  • Dystocia may or may not have occurred.
  • Unilateral or bilateral limb involvement.
  • Depending on the severity of the nerve/nerve root damage, the full range of hindlimb involvement from mild stiffness to paralysis may be caused.

Timecourse

  • The onset of signs is immediately following or within a few hours after parturition.
  • Duration of signs varies with the degree of nerve damage from days to weeks.
  • The mare may remain recumbent for several weeks.

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

Other sources of information

  • Hahn C H, Mayhew I G & Mackay R J. (1999)Nervous System: diseases of the Peripheral (Spinal) Nerves.In:Equine Medicine and Surgery. Eds: Colahan P T, Mayhew I G, Merritt A M & Moore J N. Mosby Inc, Missouri. pp 978-979. ISBN: 0815117434.


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