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Clinical findings and outcome of dogs with unilateral masticatory muscle atrophy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Emily Milodowski
  • Pablo Amengual-Batle
  • Elsa Beltran
  • Rodrigo Gutierrez-Quintana
  • Steven De Decker
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-742
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number2
Early online date17 Dec 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 6 Nov 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 17 Dec 2018
DatePublished (current) - Mar 2019



Little is known about the spectrum of underlying disorders in dogs with unilateral masticatory muscle (MM) atrophy.


To evaluate the clinical presentation, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings, and outcome of dogs with unilateral MM atrophy.


Sixty‐three client‐owned dogs.


The medical database was retrospectively reviewed for dogs that underwent MRI for evaluation of unilateral MM atrophy. Imaging studies were reviewed and follow‐up information was obtained from telephone interviews.


Presumptive trigeminal nerve sheath tumor (pTNST) was diagnosed in 30 dogs (47.6%); survival time varied from 1 day to 21 months (median, 5 months). Other extra‐axial mass lesions were observed in 13 dogs (20.6%); survival time varied from 6 days to 25 months (median, 2.5 months). In 18 dogs (28.6%), no abnormalities were observed on MRI; neurological signs only progressed in 1 dog. Diagnosis had a significant influence on the type of neurological abnormalities, with additional neurological deficits observed in most dogs with pTNST and in all dogs with other extra‐axial mass lesions. Diagnosis had a significant effect on euthanasia at the time of diagnosis and likelihood of neurological deterioration. Dogs with mass lesions were more likely to be euthanized or experience neurological deterioration, whereas these outcomes occurred less often in dogs in which no causative lesion could be identified.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

Trigeminal nerve sheath tumors should not be considered the only cause of unilateral MM atrophy. Our results illustrate the importance of performing a neurological examination and MRI when evaluating dogs with unilateral MM atrophy.



  • Milodowski_et_al-2019-Journal_of_Veterinary_Internal_Medicine

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