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View Full Version : University of Florida Low Cost MRI-- 2 thumbs up!



Holly
26th July 2011, 10:47 PM
For those of you in the Southeastern US, Dr. Schubert at UF offers a low-cost MRI scan. I had one of my Cavaliers scanned yesterday (bad news... which I was prepared for and expecting) for $735.00. This included bloodwork, the scan, a consult, and a CD of the images. I was highly impressed from the second I started corresponding with the clinic to make the appointment until the moment we left the facility. Dr. Schubert and his staff were wonderful. In all, it took about 3 hours, which I thought was quick-- I didn't feel rushed at all with the staff, though. There were neuro students in there, as well, so his explanation was very thorough. Apparently, he doesn't always recommend the surgery (titanium mesh) but he did with us. I am leaning towards medical management for a variety of reasons, but still have more research to do.

Just wanted to let you know that this is available much cheaper than most places in the US and it was an impressive experience. Here in Atlanta, this would have cost me around $2,000+.

Rod has the info on his website... www.cavalierhealth.com, or if you contact me I am happy to give you the contact info.

I must say... though I was prepared for this diagnosis and have researched this for quite a long time, it was still very sad and overwhelming to get a definitive SM diagnosis. I am very sorry for people who are newly going through this and have never even heard of the disease. I can't imagine how overwhelming it is for them.

anniemac
26th July 2011, 11:03 PM
I am so sorry holly about scarlett :( I know you were somewhat prepared but nothing can prepare you when you get results. Now at least you have a better picture of what's going on.

Was that for a full body mri?

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Margaret C
26th July 2011, 11:08 PM
Thank you for posting this, I am so sorry to hear that you had bad news.

I wish there were more people like you around, willing to share information and results.

Holly
26th July 2011, 11:14 PM
Margaret-- I think it's important that people know this is a lower-cost option and available to them if they're in the area as MRI's in the US are SO expensive and if you don't have pet insurance that is a big expense to someone who may have a suffering dog.

Anne-- do you know that I should know the answer to your question and I am embarrassed to say that I am not sure if it was full-body or mini. I think it was just her head to the middle of her back, which I am assuming is a mini-scan? Here is the info from Rod's site:

4GAINESVILLE, FL: Dr. Thomas A. Schubert, board certified veterinary neurologist and Chief of Neurology Service at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, offers cavaliers an MRI Package for $650 to $750 per dog. This includes a full physical and neurological exam, general anesthesia and recovery, the MRI, consultation about the findings from the MRI, and a copy of the MRI to take home. Owners that would like to bring more than 3 dogs may be eligible for a discount on the exam fee. However, this must be discussed before you come for your appointment or you will not be given a discount. If your CKCS, has a history consistent with possible PSOM and the MRI confirms this diagnosis, then treatment can be performed during anesthesia for this MRI with the school's Dermatology Service for the additional cost of $350 to $500. This option must be discussed and arranged prior to appointment day. The conditions for this low fee are: (a) the owner brings a current blood test report (no more than two weeks old); (b) there are no complicating health issues, such as heart problems; and (c) the owner also pays a $200.00 visit charge with the Neurology Service, which covers an evaluation before the scan and a follow-up conference to discuss the findings, treatment options, etc. Contact Dr. Schubert's technician, Amy Reynolds, email Reynoldsa@ufl.edu

Dr. Schubert's tech Amy was WONDERFUL to work with. She even worked with me over the weekend to set up to have the dermatologist available in case she needed a deep ear flush if they found PSOM-- which they did not.

gamefanz
26th July 2011, 11:32 PM
I'm so sorry to hear this news:hug: I am glad that you have been getting the info you need and the support too.
I wish there was a program here in WA that was cheaper. I think more people would do an MRI here if it was cheaper.
Becky

Pat
26th July 2011, 11:36 PM
What was very enlightening and shocking for me was to look at side by side views of the Sag T2 view of Tucker and of Scarlett. The differences between the two images were quite sobering and dramatic. Even someone not familiar with looking at MRI images can clearly see the differences and can understand the seriousness of this disease.

Pat

Holly
26th July 2011, 11:36 PM
I'm so sorry to hear this news:hug: I am glad that you have been getting the info you need and the support too.
I wish there was a program here in WA that was cheaper. I think more people would do an MRI here if it was cheaper.
Becky

Thank you. I'm ok... as someone (Pat :)) reminded me last night... she is still the same dog she was before I knew her diagnosis for sure. We have been treating this for quite a while under the guidance of a neurologist-- I just didn't do the MRI until yesterday bc of the cost. Her meds really control her symptoms so that is good news.

I believe it was one person who approached UF about this low cost clinic and got the ball rolling. Try finding a University Vet school near you and talk with them... you never know... :)

Holly
26th July 2011, 11:39 PM
Pat-- is it considered a mini-scan?? Ashamed to say that I don't know... That's probably important for people to know in case the syrinx is down at the end of the spinal cord.

RodRussell
26th July 2011, 11:46 PM
... I believe it was one person who approached UF about this low cost clinic and got the ball rolling.

Dr. Schubert spoke at the ACKCSC national show in Orlando last year, was treated very respectfully by all in attendence, and told us about his mini-scan deal, plus his use of LactoSorb SE mesh -- a biodegradable polymer mesh designed to resorb by hydrolysis within a year -- instead of titanium mesh.

Holly, did he mention this alternative mesh to titanium?

RodRussell
26th July 2011, 11:52 PM
Pat-- is it considered a mini-scan?? Ashamed to say that I don't know... That's probably important for people to know in case the syrinx is down at the end of the spinal cord.

I believe the low cost scan is a mini-scan. The mini-scan is supposed to work because the theory is that if there is a syrinx lower down, there also will be one higher up. I don't think anyone has found a low syrinx without a higher one, too.

Holly
26th July 2011, 11:55 PM
Dr. Schubert spoke at the ACKCSC national show in Orlando last year, was treated very respectfully by all in attendence, and told us about his mini-scan deal, plus his use of LactoSorb SE mesh -- a biodegradable polymer mesh designed to resorb by hydrolysis within a year -- instead of titanium mesh.

Holly, did he mention this alternative mesh to titanium?

Rod-- he told me that he had spoken at the National and that he was well-received. He did not mention the alternate mesh. He wants to use the titanium mesh with her. I asked him about the swine tissue but he didn't seem too impressed by it.

I am really undecided about doing the surgery, as the outcome is so uncertain. She has a lot of damage to the spinal cord which can't be reversed. His hope is that he will prevent more damage but she will still need meds. He was very surprised that her symptoms are so minimal. Her medication really controls them and I am vigilant about adding more when needed. I have learned her triggers and medicate accordingly. We are on the low end of meds, so lots of wiggle room there, as needed.

Holly
26th July 2011, 11:59 PM
I believe the low cost scan is a mini-scan. The mini-scan is supposed to work because the theory is that if there is a syrinx lower down, there also will be one higher up. I don't think anyone has found a low syrinx without a higher one, too.

That is interesting. Good to know.

anniemac
27th July 2011, 12:03 AM
Pat always gives good advice. Scarlett is the same little girl as before and I know you will do what's best.

I am glad dr. Sherbert was well received. Very good to hear. Is there a way to get any notes or dvd of his presentation? I think several neurologist spoke?

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Holly
27th July 2011, 12:29 AM
This is such a confusing disease... I just watched a video of a friend's dog crying and scratching, yet her MRI shows absolutely no syrinx-- malformation only. She is on meds and they do help her. Yet, here is my Cavalier with a severe malformation and huge syrinx who has never once cried out and her symptoms are mild. The tech emailed and she said she looked at my dog's images which shows she is severely affected but they have less severely affected dogs with much worse symptoms.

anniemac
27th July 2011, 12:51 AM
This is such a confusing disease... I just watched a video of a friend's dog crying and scratching, yet her MRI shows absolutely no syrinx-- malformation only. She is on meds and they do help her. Yet, here is my Cavalier with a severe malformation and huge syrinx who has never once cried out and her symptoms are mild. The tech emailed and she said she looked at my dog's images which shows she is severely affected but they have less severely affected dogs with much worse symptoms.

I understand completely or understand how I don't understand. I feel for both of you

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GraciesMom
27th July 2011, 01:59 AM
Sounds like you expected the news you got...somewhat. We go for our first neurology visit Friday and cost is $1200 for full MRI. Glad we have insurance!!! North Carolina State Vet School offers mini-MRIs at reduced rate but only for jogs not neutered or spayed. So only for breeding scans. Our issue here is that North Carolina State is now badly understaffed and key neurologists on extended leave. So we had to look at other recommended options much further away. I do feel very bad for those without insurance and no reduced rate MRIs.

lovecavaliers
27th July 2011, 12:55 PM
Holly, sorry to hear about Scarlett's MRI results, however like everyone said she is still your same little girl. I too find this disease so confusing with MRI's often not matching displayed symptoms that's why it is such a personal choice as what to do for treatment (surgery vs. Meds). You know what's best for your girl.
You mentioned Holly is not on many meds right now. Which ones does she currently take? I am always curious as to what works for some dogs, as they all react so differently to the available meds out there.
I thank you for sharing your information, hopefully it helps others in that area get their dog(s) scanned.

:hug:

Holly
27th July 2011, 01:02 PM
Holly, sorry to hear about Scarlett's MRI results, however like everyone said she is still your same little girl. I too find this disease so confusing with MRI's often not matching displayed symptoms that's why it is such a personal choice as what to do for treatment (surgery vs. Meds). You know what's best for your girl.
You mentioned Holly is not on many meds right now. Which ones does she currently take? I am always curious as to what works for some dogs, as they all react so differently to the available meds out there.
I thank you for sharing your information, hopefully it helps others in that area get their dog(s) scanned.

:hug:

She is on 100 mg Gabapentin 3/day and 10 mg of Omeprazole 1/day. If timing doesn't work out or I recognize that she's having a hard day, I will add another Gabapentin. If it is a a bad storm outside or I am going to bathe her, she gets Tramadol, as both of those things really bother her. I did have her on Previcox for a year and a half (that is an NSAID) but took her off a few months ago, as I wasn't sure it was beneficial. The neurologist suggested adding it back in, but a bit more as she was on a very small dose. I think I will do that.

We have lots of wiggle room to go up on meds, which is a good thing. Every time she has had her bloodwork done, it's been perfect. I did consult with Dr. Jean Dodds of HemoPet in the US re: whether to supplement her liver function to be safe. Dr. Dodds said not to give her anything until or unless she has an abnormal liver function. At that point, she said SamE and Milk Thistle. It comes combined in the form of Denmarin, which you can get from your vet. She also said to use a grain-free food for her, which we were already doing.

Kate H
27th July 2011, 01:29 PM
Holly wrote: they have less severely affected dogs with much worse symptoms.

Perhaps labelling the severity of SM should be based on the level of the symptoms rather than the size of the syrinx. It is width of syrinx, not length, that causes the greatest damage; so a small but wide syrinx can cause more damage than a longer but thin syrinx, which does not make contact with the nerves in the walls of the spinal cord. And there seems to be an increasing recognition of the pain that can be caused by CM alone. As a syrinx is normally the result of CM, you could say that a syrinx is only one among a number of symptoms of CM - dilated ventricles is definitely another symptom, as is hydrocephalus.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

Holly
27th July 2011, 01:43 PM
Kate, she has a wide, long syrinx, CM, and dialated ventricles/hydrocephalus. That's why he was surprised that her symptoms are as mild as they are. Such a mystery!

Kate H
27th July 2011, 03:36 PM
It seems to be so much a matter of luck - where the syrinx hits the spinal cord and which nerves are there; which direction the pressure from the dilated ventricles goes; how good a particular dog is at living with some degree of pain - the researchers must sometimes feel as if they are trying to get hold of slippery eels, or trying to cut heads off a hydra and as they destroy one, another appears! But great that Scarlett is managing so well on minimal meds - Oliver too is only on gabapentin 100mg x 3 and frusemide twice a day, with an occasional extra gabapentin (usually when air pressure gets extra high or extra low) and a (so far unused) bottle of metacam in the cupboard for emergencies. At 10, surgery has never been an option for Oliver, but it's good to feel that there's still a good way to go with adjusting medication - so I know how you feel about Scarlett.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

Cathy T
29th July 2011, 04:15 AM
Wow...that was a great price!! I know how sobering this news was for you, but am so glad you've got resources. I can't imagine someone who gets this kind of diagnosis and doesn't have any resources. I absolutely hate how baffling this disease is. It just doesn't seem to have any rhyme or reason to it. Scarlett is one lucky dog that her momma is so in touch with her.