Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

General questions about tests and procedures for diagnosing canine epilepsy. Please note that we cannot make a diagnosis or interpret specific test results via this forum - please consult your veterinarian for specific advice for your individual pet.

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jschrader
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:14 pm
Location: Crown Point, IN

Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

Post by jschrader » Wed Jul 29, 2015 9:53 am

Yukon started having seizures in November 2013 and was put on pheno. He was seizure free until July 2014, and then again until October 2014.

Since October he has been having seizures every 2-6 weeks. We kept increasing the pheno until this past May, when he was in the toxic level. The vet put him on Keppra, and decreased the pheno. Since then, he is still having seizures and now we are up to 1,500mg 3x a day in addition to 1/2 pheno 3x a day.

Today the vet said that we might want to look into a neurologist and have a CT scan and MRI done to see if there is a brain tumor.

My question, has anyone else's vet suggested this? And what if I spend thousands on the scans, and it is a brain tumor? What's the prognosis? Is the treatment costly and will it lower his quality of life, with a small chance of him recovering?

I don't want to put him through a lot of unnecessary pain, and obviously cost is an issue. I simply don't have the money for it, but I can try to figure it out if it would be the best option for him.

Any advice? I tried gofundme, but haven't had any luck there.

Gentle Jacob's mom
Posts: 925
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:52 am

Re: Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

Post by Gentle Jacob's mom » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:09 am

I think this can be a hard call. Jake has always been considered refractory and has never gone longer than 6 weeks. Mostly he lands between 2-3 weeks. We've been in this for over 9 years and have never had an MRI. We were told in the beginning that the MRI would basically be for our benefit because if it was a brain tumor there really wasn't a lot we could do. We couldn't afford it so we didn't do it. Recently Jake had what was called a neurological "incident" and the subject of an MRI came up again, but again we were told it would be for diagnostic purposes only. That if he has a brain tumor there isn't anything we could do. We really can't afford it now, so we decided to wait and see. He turned 11 last month and he's doing well. I think you need to decide what is best for you and Yukon.
I guess I would ask your vet what he/she expects you to do with the results. Just because Yukon is seizing every 2-6 weeks doesn't mean he has a tumor. It could be that you need to add on another medication. There have been many dogs here that have had MRI's and very few have had tumors.
I hope this helps somehow.
Take Care,
Lynne

jschrader
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:14 pm
Location: Crown Point, IN

Re: Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

Post by jschrader » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:32 am

That information is very helpful, thank you.

I was thinking the same thing. I can spend thousands to see a neurologist and do the MRI, and it's either going to come back fine, or he has a brain tumor.
If he has a tumor, I can put him through chemo and he will have a crappy quality of life, and for selfish reasons, I could keep him alive for a few extra months, but would I really want to put him through that? He is also terrified of car rides, and it would be almost a 2 hour trip each way probably several times.

I am just heartbroken and hope I can keep him on the meds. I just thought that having seizures every 2-6 weeks is excessive, and we keep increasing the meds and it doesnt seem to help.

Gentle Jacob's mom
Posts: 925
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:52 am

Re: Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

Post by Gentle Jacob's mom » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:49 pm

This disease can be very heartbreaking. We've been through several bumps, but there have been far more happy days than bad ones. Jake's had a happy life so far. Somehow these dogs just keep pushing forward. I on the other hand sometimes just have to get mad or cry. For the most part though we take it one day at a time. If you can, try to take the good over the bad. You're never going to get used to Yukon having seizures, but you do get into the routine of doing what you need to do when it happens and then allowing yourself time to breathe when it's over. You're not made of steel, but at the same time you're going to develop a thick skin, and when that doesn't work you'll break down and then keep going.
Has your vet mentioned Zonisamide? We haven't tried it yet, but some here have had success with it. I'm not sure if Zonisamide is filtered through the liver or not, but you could look into it. Also, you could check into giving extra Keppra for 5 days after a seizure to see if that would help. We give Jake an extra 250 mgs and have had some success with that. Adjusting meds and adding on can be very frustrating.
Keep your chin up, and come here when you need to. You've already made it through almost 2 years, and that's something to be proud of.
Take Care,
Lynne

MK's mom
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:48 am
Location: Michigan

Re: Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

Post by MK's mom » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:50 am

I would consult with a neurologist anyway, but you don't have to have the MRI or spinal tap, just use their expertise to get your pup's seizures under control. Their initial fee is higher than that of a regular vet, but after that they're no more expensive (In my own experience).
Nathan
3.5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 7/26/2013
Last seizure 3/24/2014
__________________________________
MK
5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 1/25/06
Last seizure 9/4/2009

Aug 17, 2004- Sept. 22, 2009
May the shamrocks fall softly sweetpea

ShilohsMom
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Location: Oklahoma

Re: Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

Post by ShilohsMom » Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:07 am

I'm sorry that Yukon's seizures have been increasing. It's so incredibly difficult to deal with this disease and it's made harder when it changes and you're faced with another new normal.

Unless you have tons of money to throw around and a really good reason to get an MRI or other costly procedure, my thinking is they're usually not worth doing especially when they don't change what you're doing. Shiloh had 2 MRI's and a spinal tap two years ago when his back legs started not working as well. The fear was either tumor, medication side effects or disc issue. Turned out to be a lower disc issue.

We've had to rearrange meds for the last several years and he's recently had Keppra ER added. The regular Keppra didn't seem to do much for him but the vet said they are seeing some dogs have more success with the ER, he just started a couple weeks ago so we'll see how it goes. Shiloh typically clusters every 4-6 weeks over a 2-3 day period & haven't had much success getting control over it. He's on Potassium Bromide, Zonisamide and Keppra ER. It's so hard because each dog is different and responds differently so what works for one may not for another. Zonisamide doesn't affect the liver (Shiloh has had 2 issues now with the liver so we have to watch that). I would suggest adding Milk Thistle if you don't already while Yukon is on the Pheno. It can help protect the liver.

Hang in there, we're here for you.
Colleen, Rylie, Sophie & angels Izzie & Shiloh
DOB: 11/11/05
First seizure: 07/28//10
Last seizure: 06/27/16

jschrader
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:14 pm
Location: Crown Point, IN

Re: Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

Post by jschrader » Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:20 am

Thank you all for the information. I am going to suggest the Zonisamide and Keppra ER to my vet. I also let him know that for right now I am going to continue with his medication and treatment. I just don't have the financial resources to see a neurologist and get tests done. This forum has been a huge help and has made me feel better. Over the last day all I think about is having to make a decision on his life and it makes me sick.

Eley's Mom
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:54 am
Location: Chicago, West Suburbs

Re: Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

Post by Eley's Mom » Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:40 am

I haven't done any MRI's or anything for Eley.
Basically, my vet advised that if it were something like a tumor that she would most likely be exhibiting other signs and symptoms of a tumor. Since all the bloodwork has always been normal and she's healthy otherwise, the chance of it being a brain tumor would be very low.

I think we have all felt the financial strain. I tried gofundme as well and didn't have a very positive experience. My mom and another friend donated, but that is it. I actually got a lot of negative comments from coworkers of mine that see Eley and me everyday (she comes to work every day). They've seen my stress, they have seen her seize, and a couple people asked how dare I ask for other people to pay for my dog....because, of course, she's just a dog. :roll:
I didn't feel bad putting her story out there considering in 2014 I paid over $6,000 on this disease.

Luckily, this year the bills have been MUCH lower since we can get the seizures to stop at home now.

There are also a bunch of groups out there that help people pay for vet bills and procedures if they're having a hard time. When I get a chance I'll post some of the links.

Random question for those using Keppra ER, is it super pricey or is it fairly reasonable?
I want to bring Keppra ER up to my vet as a possible third full-time med since we're still not controlled and we're maxed out on pheno and nearly maxed on Kbr.
We use gabapentin on seizure days and for three days after, but it's dosed every eight hours. I know Keppra ER is dosed every 12, but before I bring it up, I'm curious what I would be getting myself into price-wise. The gabapentin is fairly inexpensive, but hate the 8 hour dosing..
Diana & Eley
Boston Terrier (23 lbs)
DOB: 11/12/09
First Seizure 2/8/14
Last Seizure 10/9/16
Phenobarbital 48.6mg (morning), 56.7mg p.m. (night)
3 mL Potasium Bromide, once daily
Clorazepate as needed after seizures

ShilohsMom
Posts: 814
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

Post by ShilohsMom » Thu Jul 30, 2015 12:32 pm

Hi Diana,

I haven't gotten the Keppra ER filled yet at WalMart (I pick it up tomorrow). When I got it from the veterinary hospital it was around $80. This is for 120 tablets at 500 mg. My goodrx.com shows that it should run me around $60 at WalMart with the discount. If you have the Sams membership plus or a Costco it could be cheaper.

The expense of all this can be horrible. In the past year alone it'd probably be safe to say I've spent over $6,000 on medical issues/drugs with Shiloh. We've been doing this for 5 years now and that total doesn't reflect when he had his MRI's & spinal tap. I don't tell most people what I spend because they don't get it. I would do no less for my child. My dogs are every bit as loved and important to me, just as I'm sure they are to all of you that are here.

The Wally Foundation https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Wall ... ef=profile helps with medications and seizure related vet appointments. Not sure what their criteria is.
Colleen, Rylie, Sophie & angels Izzie & Shiloh
DOB: 11/11/05
First seizure: 07/28//10
Last seizure: 06/27/16

jschrader
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:14 pm
Location: Crown Point, IN

Re: Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

Post by jschrader » Thu Jul 30, 2015 1:05 pm

For the regular Keppra it was like $160 at CVS, but I got a Sam's Club membership and it was $10.00 for 60 pills. The Keppra ER version is also on their $10 list, so I recommend that.

I also applied to the Wally foundation to see if they can help as well. You are right, I did not have any luck on gofund me as well, I guess you have to make the news doing something awful for people to donate :(

jschrader
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:14 pm
Location: Crown Point, IN

Re: Seizures getting worse, vet suggested CT Scan/MRI

Post by jschrader » Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:48 pm

I actually spoke to my vet, and he agreed to hold off on the MRI now, and to try the Keppra ER. He did say, that even if it was a tumor, with treatment you might get 6 more months. Although he said that usually it is more common with older dogs, it is not always the case.

So for now, he is researching the other drug, and going forward with the Keppra ER

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