Clinical forms of acquired myasthenia gravis in dogs: 25 cases (1988-1995).

C. W. Dewey, C. S. Bailey, G. D. Shelton, Philip H Kass, G. H. Cardinet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this project was to investigate the clinical forms of acquired myasthenia gravis in dogs. The medical records from 25 dogs with seropositive acquired myasthenia gravis were reviewed, and the following data were recorded for each patient: signalment, history, clinical findings; results of IV edrophonium chloride administration, repetitive nerve stimulation, and presence or absence of muscle membrane staining by immunocytochemical methods; serum acetylcholine receptor antibody concentration; treatment; and outcome. Several clinical forms of acquired myasthenia gravis were identified. Nine of the 25 patients (36%) had no historical or clinical evidence of appendicular muscle weakness, and were designated as focal myasthenics. These dogs exhibited focal weakness in one or more of the following muscle groups: facial (3 of 9), pharyngeal (3 of 9), and laryngeal (3 of 9). The remaining 16 dogs (64%) exhibited appendicular muscle weakness. Four of these 16 dogs had acute onset and rapid development of clinical signs, and were designated as acute fulminating myasthenics. The remaining 12 dogs were classified as generalized myasthenics. All 4 dogs with acute fulminating myasthenia gravis had megaesophagus, 2 had facial muscle weakness, and 1 had pharyngeal muscle weakness. Ten of the 12 dogs with generalized myasthenia gravis had megaesophagus, 4 had facial muscle weakness, 4 had pharyngeal muscle weakness, and 3 had laryngeal muscle weakness. Historical or clinical evidence of exercise-associated appendicular weakness was found in only 6 of the 12 (50%) dogs with generalized myasthenia gravis, and in none of the dogs with acute fulminating myasthenia gravis. Seven of the 12 dogs with generalized myasthenia gravis had weakness primarily (n = 1) or exclusively (n = 6) of the pelvic limbs. Two of the 4 dogs with acute fulminating myasthenia gravis had primarily pelvic limb weakness. Twelve of the 25 dogs (48%) died or were euthanized shortly after admission to the hospital due to aspiration pneumonia. The dogs with acute fulminating myasthenia gravis had a markedly higher 1-year mortality rate in comparison with the other 2 groups. The use of immunosuppressive therapy had a significant positive effect on patient survival, regardless of the type of myasthenia gravis. This investigation demonstrates that acquired myasthenia gravis in dogs is a disorder with a wide spectrum of clinical forms, similar to the analogous disorder in people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-57
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of veterinary internal medicine / American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Volume11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)

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