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Traumatic pneumocephalus in a dog

Allison C. Haley DVM1 and Carley Abramson DVM, DACVIM2
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  • 1 Gulf Coast Veterinary Surgery and Neurology, 1111 W Loop South, Houston, TX 77027.
  • | 2 Gulf Coast Veterinary Surgery and Neurology, 1111 W Loop South, Houston, TX 77027.


Case Description—A 17-month-old dog was evaluated because of progressive tetraparesis. The dog had a history of craniofacial trauma at 2 months of age.

Clinical Findings—Results of a neurologic examination were suggestive of a lesion localized to the medulla. Computed tomography revealed extensive pneumocephalus extending throughout the ventricular system and into the cranial cervical subarachnoid space.

Treatment and Outcome—Because of the deterioration in the dog's clinical condition, an emergency bilateral transfrontal craniectomy was performed. A large amount of pyogranulomatous material was found intraoperatively. Neurologic and computed tomographic abnormalities were no longer evident during a recheck examination 8 weeks after surgery.

Clinical Relevance—Findings suggested that pneumocephalus should be considered in the differential diagnosis for dogs with neurologic signs of an intracranial abnormality, particularly if the dog has a history of craniofacial trauma.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Haley's present address is Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

The authors thank Dr. Scott Schatzberg for assistance with manuscript preparation.

Address correspondence to Dr. Haley.