Trigeminal-mediated headshaking is an idiopathic neuropathic facial pain syndrome in horses. There are clinical similarities to trigeminal neuralgia, a neuropathic facial pain syndrome in man, which is usually caused by demyelination of trigeminal sensory fibers within either the nerve root or, less commonly, the brainstem. Our hypothesis was that the neuropathological substrate of headshaking in horses is similar to that of trigeminal neuralgia in man. Trigeminal nerves, nerve roots, ganglia, infraorbital, and caudal nasal nerves from horse abattoir specimens and from horses euthanized due to trigeminal-mediated headshaking were removed, fixed, and processed for histological assessment by a veterinary pathologist and a neuropathologist with particular experience of trigeminal neuralgia histology. No histological differences were detected between samples from horses with headshaking and those from normal horses. These results suggest that trigeminal-mediated headshaking may have a different pathological substrate from trigeminal neuralgia in man.
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