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Multidisciplinary approach improving diagnosis and treatment of spontaneous canine neuropathic pain

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Royal Veterinary College (RVC)
01 November 2012

Further information

Multidisciplinary approach for improving diagnosis and treatment of spontaneous canine neuropathic pain

Supervisors: Dr Ludovic Pelligand (, Dr Siobhan Abeyesinghe & Dr Holger Volk (RVC) and Dr Neil Upton (Transpharmation Ltd)

Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Neuropathic pain (NeP) arises as a direct consequence of a lesion or disease process affecting the somatosensory nervous system. NeP is more intense than other pain-types, resistant to simple analgesics and impairs daily activity and quality of life. It is frequently associated with neurobehavioural disorders due to the combination of the sensory-discriminative and affective-motivational dimensions of pain experience. Validating spontaneous models of central NeP has become a priority as promising compounds tested in evoked preclinical models of NeP do not translate in humans, mainly because of their inability to capture the emotional dimensions of NeP or accurately represent its clinical complexity. A range of clinical signs are currently used to diagnose NeP in dogs, but how they correspond and which might best predict NeP severity is presently unclear. This makes it difficult to classify and treat dogs in a standardized manner and to assess the effectiveness of available or novel treatments.

The student will develop and validate a canine composite assessment tool for central NeP (Chiari-like malformation and Syringomyelia [CM/SM]), building on our recent identification of a correlation between owner observed clinical signs of NeP and behavioural disturbances indicating pain, while incorporating Quantitative Sensory Tests (QST) for sensory abnormalities. Sensory threshold examination testing will involve standardised, transient, escapable QSTs for mechanical and thermal allodynia and hyperalgesia. The prototype tool will be applied to populations of central NeP-affected and control dogs to refine the tool before its validation against owner assessment, accelerometry data and clinical response to a therapeutic intervention with a drug efficacious against NeP.

The project is anticipated to have substantial impact on the reliability of clinical assessment of NeP in dogs, the welfare promotion of both CM/SM-affected canines and owners and knowledge of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of candidate NeP drugs in dogs relative to people.

Due to the clinical nature of the project, we seek a strong and enthusiastic candidate with a veterinary medicine degree (registerable with the RCVS) and excellent client communication skills. A previous specialist training in small animal neurology or anaesthesia / analgesia will be required.
For further details please contact Dr Ludovic Pelligand (
Deadline for applications is 12 noon on Monday 3rd December. Interviews to be held Tuesday 15th January. 

  • Grubb T., 2010. Chronic neuropathic pain in veterinary patients. Top. Companion Anim. Med. 25, 45-52.
  • Rutherford L., Wessmann A., Rusbridge C., McGonnell IM., Abeyesinghe S., Burn, C., Volk, HA., 2012. Questionnaire-based behaviour analysis of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with neuropathic pain due to Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia. Vet. J. in press,
  • Brown, D.C., Boston, R.C., Coyne J. C., Farrar, J.T., 2007. Development and Psychometric testing of an instrument designed to measure chronic pain in dogs with Osteoarthritis. Am. J. Vet. Res.  68, 631-637.


Royal Veterinary College (RVC)

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