Veterinary 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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Veterinary MRI

Post by Fred » Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:41 am

Charlie is a 4 year old muggin ( pug mix ) who has been having seizures since he was one or younger. Took him to the vet and she got stuck on liver shunts gave him medication for it (didn't help ) and did two bile acid tests later that was ruled out. Would have to look through his records but other tests were done as well . She kept consulting with other vets and he was still having seizures .So I looked online and found that epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures in younger dogs and suggested that she give him medication for it. She prescribed potassium bromide and levetracetam . That actually worked for 7 or 8 months then he had another one and the about 2 months after that .Now one every 2 to 4 weeks. Vet increased dosage of potassium bromide with no benefit. Vet recommended MRI. Went to another vet and she is recommending a MRI also. After reading on this site it seems that a MRI may not yield any results or they may find something then your faced with even more tough expensive decisions that may not help at all. Question 1 has anyone had any real success after an MRI or do you wish you wouldn't of done it ? Note if you have money to burn we are not on the same playing field and I am a couple hours away from the nearest veterinary mri . I talked to the vet assistant about insurance and she recommended PEtPlan insurance. Question 2 He is not insured now will they accept him or would they say he has a preexisting condition and not insure him? They gave me a 30.00 a month quote online so far. If I could get the MRI done for 700.00 instead of 2500 would make it easier to decide. No speculation please looking for someone that has been through it .There are other medication options or maybe a holistic approach . Thanks in advance

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Re: Veterinary MRI

Post by Lovelight » Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:55 am


I apologize in advance, this is a long post, but what I know can help you.

The thing with pet insurances as I have found, is their clauses phrasing for pre-existing conditions and certain hereditary conditions or congenital conditions, and how they may determine what is one. None actually cover pre-existing conditions while another may say if something has not been treated for x months (usually 6months to 18months, while a few may be longer) then they will cover it, such as an ear infection - ie something that can be cured. Some breeds are susceptible to certain conditions (not that it will always happen), just simply because of genetics. Some have worded their stipulations of coverage so cleverly that hiccups or acne can be determined pre-existing to some digestion or allergy issue later, even if years has gone by. There is usually a health screening, evaluation of pet records and a waiting period before coverage begins. There are maybe two or three insurances out there that have a rider or 'waiver' allowing coverage for genetic or congenital, hereditary, serious/lifetime conditions or 'pre-existing' conditions under certain circumstances and those policies have heftier premiums (which can be 100-200 MORE on top of the regular price depending on age of your pet). So it isn't totally impossible to find one despite age, health record etc. I've read where people have paid years of pet insurance and never filed for any reimbursement, but when they did, the insurance for some reason or another wouldn't pay. Some insurances also require that you keep up on their vaccinations, preventative care, yearly or bi-yearly health exams/tests within reason, or they won't cover your pet. Say you decided to wait for treatment or went against vet advice or recommendation for treatment for whatever reason and then you put in a claim at a later time for the same ailment, the insurance can refuse to pay you because you didn't give your pet treatment at the earlier time (they will say it is pre-existing). Think of the many ways they can deny you or call something pre-existing. Make sure you understand what is covered, what isn't and the conditions of the insurance before you buy. I think Petplan offers a lot but be certain to read their definition of pre-existing condition- a pretty wide definition at that-->
"Simply put, if your pet has or had any condition, whether diagnosed by your veterinarian or not, before enrolling in a Petplan pet insurance policy, it is considered pre-existing. However, at Petplan we recognize there are two types of pre-existing conditions: those which can be cured, and those which cannot be cured. If your pet has experienced a curable condition previous to enrolling in a Petplan pet insurance policy, the condition, while pre-existing, may be eligible for coverage after an exclusionary period. Providing your pet’s medical history shows no further episodes of the condition subsequent to the initial episode, coverage for the condition may be restored. For further information, visit our FAQs and search “pre-existing condition." from ... INEJOURNAL

The second aspect to having pet insurance: With ANY and ALL pet insurance, you have to pay up front at the vets for treatment given, then file a claim. However, some vets offer pet care credit, which requires a credit check because you would be applying for credit to use solely for pet treatment. Pet care credit allows your pet to have treatment when needed, and for you to have a payment plan instead of paying all upfront. So, If you have pet insurance too, once your pet was given treatment, even if you are still paying the credit, you can then file for reimbursement from the insurance. With some pet insurances, you can specify for them to send the check to your vet to pay the remainder (of the pet care credit). No pet insurance will pay for treatment that has not been given. You can't send the insurance an estimate of care and expect them to pay before your pet has had treatment. Otherwise, having pet insurance plus pet care credit can work and be worth it, providing the insurance decides to reimburse you. BUT if you don't have money to pay upfront, or are not eligible for pet care credit, pet insurance is of little help.

Part of the problem is that pet insurances are written under laws that are considered property and casualty (like car or house insurance), rather than a living being. Most don't realize you have to pay upfront for services and don't fully read the policy, and then get stuck later. You're better off taking money you'd pay for premiums (or x amount a month) and putting it in an interest bearing account and leaving it there until you need it for them. At least then YOU will never be denied when your pet needs something the most and you don't lose any money to premiums and denied claims.

So if you would pay say $200 a month for pet insurance, that is $2400 a year plus interest saved for your pet, AND that would be YOUR money regardless and gaining interest, so if you never use it for pet care and not need it for that, you don't lose it. Yeah, saving takes time, but it is worth it should your pet need it someday.

For me, unless pet insurance becomes more of a health insurance for pets, like humans have, I won't be buying into it.

MRI issue. It's a pretty extensive and all inclusive diagnostic and usually includes a spinal tap (if no tumors are found during MRI). There is a possibility that it may return normal findings, however, if your dog has a secondary epilepsy, it can target where the problem is and perhaps why it is there- spinal tap and MRI can identify illnesses, thus specialize treatment. When it comes to seizures, the treatment is the same regardless of diagnosis or reason for the seizures, however, certain medicines (like chemo) are only available if confirmed by diagnosis and diagnostics. If you do the MRI/spinal tap, would you follow through with recommended treatment if something is found? More than the expense, would having the test done be of benefit to YOUR dog? My only regret with my dog was not taking her to a neurologist earlier. So my last thought to you, something to consider though your dog has seen a few vets, did one include a neurologist? If not, that might be the first thing to schedule, it can take weeks to get an appointment. It takes time to get the right combination of medicine.

Anyway, sorry this is so long. Good luck to you and your beautiful dog.

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Re: Veterinary MRI

Post by Alliezig » Fri Apr 27, 2018 4:24 pm

I have Petplan and had an MRI done on 4/9/18; I do not know if they would have covered the MRI if I had not had Petplan for 6 years on Ziggy prior to his seizure. As to the MRI, I felt I had to do it. Ziggy had his first seizure on 12/23/17 at age 6 and is not doing well. Two days before the MRI, he had cluster seizures and I thought I was doing to lose him. A few people kept saying brain tumor due to the age when the seizure first occurred. In any event, I am overly attached to Ziggy and love him so much. The MRI would let me know if there was reason for his seizures - it was still a hardship financially but emotionally one I wanted to make. I am still very glad that I did the MRI even though the MRI and the spinal tap were negative so the diagnosis is late onset idiopathic epilepsy.
.Ziggy had tests on 4/25/18 which were also expensive - Phenobarbital and Keppra blood level - one blood draw when he is due for his meds and the other blood draw two hours after he takes his meds. The doctor said that some dogs metabolize Keppra very rapidly and he may need another medicine. However, he is so medicated now that I am inclined not to add any additional medication but ask if we can cut back. To clarify - the Keppra tests were expensive.

The MRI was hard on Ziggy - he was under general anesthesia for a long time and it took a long time for him to recover - actually he is still sluggish. However, I feel so much better knowing what I am dealing with and working with a doctor who is very knowledgeable . Ziggy is now on 1000 mg Keppra 3 x day and 1.5 grams of Phenobarbital 2 x a day.

I plan to discuss Ziggy's future treatment with his neurologist on Sunday. He is not doing well and last Sunday was in the vet ER center for severe nausea. This is truly one of the worse things I have been through and I have had, over the years, dogs with many illnesses including cancer, strokes and immune disorders.

Good luck with your decision.

Mary Lou
Mary Lou and Ziggy
1000 mg Keppra 3 x day; 1.5 grams Phenobarbital 2 x day

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