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Arachnoid Cysts in Pugs

The two types of arachnoid cysts are rare conditions in pugs. Being a hereditary defect, pugs with arachnoid cysts are born with the condition. In most cases, dogs affected with the disease don’t show any signs of the condition. The cysts are usually an incidental finding during diagnostic tests (MRI or CT scan) for other defects of the nervous system. Aside from hereditary causes, there have been cases when arachnoid cysts are formed as a result of injury or trauma to the brain or spine.

For symptomatic cases, the clinical manifestations will depend on the location of the lesions. When the arachnoid cysts are present within the spine (spinal arachnoid cysts or SACs), symptoms involve mobility difficulties which may include one or more of the following—a wobbly gait (ataxia), an exaggerated gait (hypermetria), or a loss in the ability to position the limbs normally.
In intracranial arachnoid cysts or IACs, affected dogs often undergo seizures. Other signs that may be present include weakness in the limbs, loss of vision, mobility difficulties and neck pain. Dogs affected with this type of defect often suffer from poor balance and find it hard to walk straight.

Diagnosis of Arachnoid cysts is made based on a thorough neurological examination, CT scans, MRI, and myelography (special contrast procedures done on the spine).

Small, brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds of dogs such as Shih-tzus and Pugs have been observed to be more prone to the condition compared to other dog breeds. Although surgery can successfully treat the condition, breeds which are predisposed to the disease often continue to form new arachnoid cysts.

The success in the treatment of arachnoid cysts is dependent on the location of the lesions. The spinal arachnoid cysts or SACs has an excellent prognosis.
Surgery is indicated to relieve the pressure exerted by the cyst on the spine. The most common technique used is Hemilaminectomy with cyst fenestration. This procedure is similar to that which is used to address disc disease in dogs.

On the other hand, treatment of intracranial arachnoid cysts or IACs can often be more complicated. The common surgical procedures used are either cyst fenestration (making an opening in the cyst wall) or cystoperitoneal shunt placement (to facilitate draining of the cyst fluid). A more conservative approach includes administering medications such as anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, and/or diuretics) to minimize or altogether prevent seizures.