Clinical Neuroscience Vetsuisse


  • Franck Forterre, Prof. Dr.
  • Veronika Stein, Prof. Dr.

Research focuses

  • Diagnostic Imaging of the brain
  • Acute spinal cord injury
  • Malformations and diseases of the spine in dogs


  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Imaging (MRI/ CT) guided stereotactic brain biopsy
  • Spinal cord monitoring (Intramedullary pressure, Doppler blood flow measurement)

Short description

Veterinary Clinical Neurosciences is a research group of neurologists, neurosurgeons and radiologists at the Vetsuisse-Faculty Bern.

Diagnostic Imaging of the brain

The improvement of MRI based diagnostic imaging of the brain in companion (mainly dogs and cats) and farm animals is a major research focus of the group. In collaboration with veterinary neuropathology (Prof. Anna Oevermann) MRI findings are directly compared to histopathology of brain biopsies or post mortem histopathology of the brain to improve sensitivity and specificity of lesion detection and characterisation, and assess the diagnostic value of selected imaging sequences. Embedded into the Listeriosis research group, metabolic profiling of brain biopsies from small ruminants as a model for a neuroinfectious disease is performed in close collaboration with the AMSM (Prof. Peter Vermathen) using HR-MAS NMR spectroscopy directly comparing metabolic alterations to histopathology and MR imaging findings.

Acute spinal cord injury

Research on spinal cord injury relies mostly on experimental animal models with rats being the most frequently used species. A main problem is that such models involve highly invasive manipulations. We investigate this entity in spontaneously occurring intervertebral disc disease cases in dogs. This disease is a very frequent neurological problem in dogs, which occurs predominantly in the thoracolumbar area of chondrodystrophic breeds. Most research on canine intervertebral disc disease has revolved around diagnostic and surgical issues within the strict veterinary context. This disease has so far only been used to a very limited extent in pathophysiological and treatment studies with a wider comparative and translational context. The novel approach of our group is the use of this spontaneous model for pathogenesis research by correlating data from various sources and the application of examination techniques that have not been used before in the context of veterinary spinal cord trauma.

Malformations and diseases of the spine in dogs

Acute and chronic disc disease and spondylomyelopathies are a major cause of neurologic disorders in dogs of large and small breeds. Toy breed dogs are predisposed to congenital malformations of the craniovertebral junction. Both disease entities can lead to instability of the spine and prevent recovery. We are aiming at the development of novel surgical implants suitable for the atlantoaxial transition, the cervical and thoracolumbar spine adapted to the variable body weight of toy to large breed dogs.