Brain MRI Headshaking | Horse Veterinary Library | Cave Creek Equine

Brain MRI Headshaking

Equine brain MRI

This horse presented for photic head-shaking. With this condition, exposure to sunlight induces an unpleasant sensation inside the nose, which makes the horse sneeze and shake its head. It is thought to be a disorder of the trigeminal nerve, since this nerve transmits sensation from inside the nose. A latent herpesvirus infection within the nerve is suspected to be one possible cause.

This image shows an enlarged trigeminal nerve at the base of the brain. Due to the enlargement and MRI signal intensity, an inflammatory condition is suspected. The exact cause of the enlarged nerve is unknown at this time. This image is reconstructed from the MRI data. We have the ability to slice the structure (like a loaf of bread) in any orientation after the scan is complete.

This is the first case of trigeminal nerve photic head-shaking that has been diagnosed using MRI. There are likely many causes of this condition, and so in most patients the specific abnormality is never identified.

There are numerous treatments for photic head-shaking. This horse is being treated with most of the traditional treatments (cyproheptadine, magnesium, melatonin, and light management), with the addition of a strong anti-inflammatory medication, prednisolone.

This patient’s head-shaking signs have improved, but it is still too early to tell if treatment will be fully successful.

With our MRI technology, diagnostic skills and state of the art treatments, we are able to accurately diagnose and design a specific treatment for an otherwise deadly disorder.

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