The story of the dancing eyes….

snow-in-slovakia-vet-school-nystagmus

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Supreme Rabbit Food

I’ve been spending as much time as I can in surgery, this leaves me for very little else at the moment so apologies for the lack of updates. I’ve started quite a few posts but not quite finished them… It’s all a matter of time as I need to sleep at least a little now so that I can focus on what I am doing, and more importantly so if I am assisting my hands don’t shake.

What I really love about what I do is the unexpected. How your heart goes from 0 to 1000 in a split second…

It was lunchtime; I was the only person in clinic monitoring a patient after anaesthesia, whilst an owner was sitting with another dog after its anaesthetic which was a bit more alert and stable than my patient.

Suddenly the eyes of the other dog started flicking side to side crazily fast. Owner has gone pale. My brain has gone into auto drive.

My mind goes back to my reading, nystagmus jumps to my brain… The involuntary movement of eyes side to side otherwise known as dancing eyes…

Dog is breathing? Yes…

Dog has heart beat? Yes…

Are there muscle tremors? No…

Are pupils normal? Yes…

Was the patient here for neurosurgery? No….

Is it life threatening? No…

Does the owner talk English? No…

Is it positional nystagmus? Maybe…

Is it toxicological? Maybe…

Pharmacological? Potentially…

10 seconds have passed, I have a plan, and I breathe. I have time… I smile for the owner and say moment. My favourite word… When said calmly and confidently it has a big effect on an owner, it calms them to have someone in control. Even though I know nothing it is all about the appearance I’ve found. I wear a stethoscope, I am smiling, and I am not panicking. The owner does not panic either.

So I head to the staff room to grab the doctor that did the anaesthesia, and we find that moving the head from its side to straight decreases the nystagmus. It’s positional. Basically with the ear inside the skull are 3 little semicircular canals at right angles to each other, one is horizontal, one is vertical and one is at an 90 degree angle to this. These are the heads motion detectors, they know when the head is moving. If you focus on something and turn your head whilst still focusing on the same object these will keep your eyes looking at the object for as long as possible. It is why when you reach a certain point your eyes will seem to snap to the image in front of you.

Now these can be affected by the drugs we use, so in addition to changing the head position we gave a sedative to calm down the body whilst we waited for the dog to calm down again. With a little more time the body reached a state of balance again and the dog recovered uneventfully.

My biggest regret though is that I did not think to get a video of this, it really is one of the strangest things I have ever seen. Going by what the doctors said it is also pretty uncommon as well.

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