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Innovating Veterinary Human Neurology
Kemi has been part of the Eshima family for nearly 12 years. Normally a happy and healthy sheltie, her family became concerned last February when Kemi started to have trouble eating. They brought her to her regular veterinarian, and, while there, Kemi began to have a prolonged seizure. “I got a call from our veterinarian, and he said the seizure had been going on for quite a while,” said Duane Eshima. “She said we could put Kemi down or see a specialist.” That evening, Kemi, still recovering from her seizure, was on her way to Colorado State University to see Dr. Stephanie Engel, who is part of the Neurology Service team led by Dr. Rebecca Packer. An ultrasound and neurological testing showed there might be something impacting Kemi’s brain, but Kemi had to wait until Monday for her MRI. The results weren’t what the Eshimas wanted to see – Kemi had a brain tumor. Treating Diseases of the Nervous System The Neurology Service at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital specializes in diseases of the nervous system, including conditions like epilepsy, infections that impact the brain, seizure disorders, and cancer. “We are one of the only veterinary hospitals in the world offering minimally invasive brain surgery for our patients, and this is a very exciting area for us to be in,” said Packer, who came to CSU from Purdue University, where she established a neurology program. “When we remove a tumor from muscle or skin, we can take a larger margin to make sure we get all the cancer. In the brain, you can’t do that. The whole idea is to minimize impact.” Changing the Playing Field of Neurosurgery Minimally invasive brain surgery is performed through a tube about the size of a dime to remove brain tumors, cysts, hemorrhages, and other brain lesions. A small incision is made in the scalp, and an opening in the skull allows space for the port. As the port is inserted, no normal brain tissue is removed; it is gently and temporarily pushed aside. A small endoscope is inserted into the port, allowing the surgeon to see the tumor and use other tools through the port to remove the tumor. The entire procedure is pre-mapped to minimize damage to brain structures and fibers, and during surgery, real-time imaging shows where surgical tools are at within the brain, helping to keep normal structures safe. Kemi’s family, including Duane’s sister Carole and his daughter Azaria, decided on minimally invasive brain surgery for Kemi. They hoped it would improve her quality of life and buy them additional time with their beloved sheltie. “Brain tumors usually have a poor prognosis, and what we and human doctors are able to offer our patients is fairly limited, so it’s exciting to be at the forefront of this field where we can not only have a great impact working to reduce surgical trauma and improve prognosis for our patients, but also for human medicine as well,” said Packer. A Better Quality of life for Kemi Kemi came through her surgery with flying colors and is back with her family and acting like her old self. The surgery removed most of Kemi’s tumor but can’t keep it from coming back. The Eshimas are enjoying every day they have with Kemi, whether it’s months or years. “We’re just really glad we made the decision to ome to CSU,” said Eshima. New equipment and space will enable the Neurology Service to continue to offer its clients worldclass neurological care, including minimally invasive brain surgery, and enhance imaging and surgery planning capabilities.   Dr. Rebecca Packer Dr. Rebecca Packer Dr. Rebecca Packer joined the Neurology Service at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital as the lead clinician in Fall 2014. As a board-certified veterinary neurologist, she specializes on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord. Packer came to Colorado State University from Purdue University, where she had established a neurology service in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Her clinical interests include neurosurgery, movement disorders, intracranial diseases (diseases that cause either structural or functional changes inside the brain), and neoplastic conditions of the nervous system. Packer conducts comparative research on minimally invasive neurosurgical techniques and novel drug therapies for the treatment of brain tumors. Her innovative approach to neurological disease is changing the way patients are being treated at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Packer works closely with other services at the hospital, including colleagues in the Flint Animal Cancer Center, to treat brain tumors. She also collaborates with the Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation group, where many patients have neurologically related mobility issues.   For more information on the Neurology Service, please visit their website. If you would like to support advances in veterinary neurology, please contact the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Office of Advancement, at (970) 491-7446.