Equis ISSN 2398-2977

Neurology: examination - foal

Contributor(s): Caroline Hahn, Ruth Morgan, Vetstream Ltd

Introduction

  • Apparently healthy newborn foals differ significantly from the adult in their response to neurologic testing.
  • Foals respond to external stimuli with exaggerated movements, and tend to collapse when firmly restrained.
  • Head carriage is more angular than in the adult and a base wide stance is normal in young foals.
  • The menace reflex is absent at birth and develops within 2 weeks.
  • Gait of foals is generally dysmetric.
  • In lateral recumbency, foals show abnormal reflexes eg increased extensor tone, hyper-reflexive tendon reflexes, crossed extensor reflexes and recumbent extensor thrust reflexes.
  • Seizures are more common in neonatal foals than in adults.
  • Certain neurological diseases are much more common in foals than adults, eg botulism   Botulism  , meningitis.
  • It is important to distinguish neurological disease caused by extracranial disease, eg seizures due to hypolycemia and that caused by intracranial disease, eg idiopathic epilepsy.
  • See also Neurology overview   Foal: resuscitation and care  .

Uses

  • The neurologic examination is the most important diagnostic tool in the evaluation of neurologic disease.
  • The objective is to localize the site of the lesion in the nervous system and decide upon possible etiologies.
  • An understanding of the function and anatomy of the central nervous system (CNS) is essential.

Advantages

  • Diagnostically very informative.
  • Within the scope of all veterinarians and no specialist equipment required.

Disadvantages

  • More difficult than in adult due to foals tendency to resist restraint and then collapse under firm restraint.

Requirements

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Preparation

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Procedure

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Chaffin M K et al (1997) Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain of normal neonatal foals. Vet Radiol & Ultrasound 38 (2), 102-111 PubMed.
  • Knottenbelt, D C (1996) Equine neurologic disease and dysfunction - a diagnostic challenge for the practitioner. Part 2 - The clinical neurologic examination. Equine Vet Educ (5), 260-270 Wiley Online Library.
  • Lunn D P & Mayhew I G (1989) The neurologic evaluation of horses. Equine Vet Educ (2), 94-101 Wiley Online Library.
  • Adams R & Mayhew I G (1984) Neurologic examination of newborn foals. Equine Vet J 16 (4), 306-312 PubMed.


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