Rodents: neurological and musculoskeletal disorders

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Neurological and musculoskeletal disorders in rodents are characterized by clinical case reports from exotic pet practice in addition to aetiologies more commonly documented under laboratory conditions. This makes it difficult to determine the actual incidence of many neurological and musculoskeletal disorders that may present in practice and whether this has changed over time. The causes of neurological and musculoskeletal disorders can be traumatic, infectious, neoplastic, nutritional, metabolic, toxic, degenerative, idiopathic, iatrogenic, genetic or congenital, or a combination of these. Neurological and musculoskeletal diseases can be species specific or affect multiple species, be geographically restricted or generalized, and be part of a multisystemic disorder or have pathology isolated exclusively to these organ systems. Disease can very frequently have a husbandry component. This chapter explains History, physical examination and diagnostic procedures; Selected neurological and musculoskeletal conditions such as disorders associated with convulsions/seizures.

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14.7 Otitis media is frequently seen in young chinchillas and may present with a head tilt as in this case. (Courtesy of Emma Keeble.)
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14.8 Rat with head tilt. This animal’s condition gradually deteriorated until it became inappetent with marked weight loss. It was euthanased and a pituitary adenoma was diagnosed on post-mortem examination. (Courtesy of Emma Keeble.)
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14.9 Epileptiform seizure in a young gerbil. Spontaneous epilepsy is common in selectively bred lines of gerbils and is inherited. Frequent handling in the first 3 months of life can reduce the severity and incidence of seizures. (Courtesy of Emma Keeble.)
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14.10 Calcaneal fracture in a guinea pig. This was successfully stabilized using a hypodermic needle as an intramedullary pin in combination with a monofilament orthopaedic wire tension band. Fractures are common in rodents and often occur secondary to trauma following mishandling. (Courtesy of Emma Keeble.)
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14.11 Rex guinea pigs with vitamin C deficiency. These animals presented with stiffness of all four limbs and a shuffling gait. A diagnosis was made based on clinical signs and history. The animals responded well to vitamin C supplementation. (Courtesy of Emma Keeble.)
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