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THE study by Kearsley-Fleet and others (2013), summarised on p 338 of this issue of Veterinary Record, examines the epidemiology of a large cohort of epileptic dogs obtained from first-opinion practice and provides useful information about the potential differences between cases seen in first- and second-opinion practice. Only 2.2 per cent of the dogs in their study underwent MRI scanning. As MRI is generally restricted to referral practices, this suggests that only a very small proportion of epileptic dogs in the UK are referred for investigation and, therefore, that studies on referred dogs with epilepsy sample only a small proportion of the canine population with epilepsy. It is tempting to assume that this may introduce some sampling bias into these studies and that those animals that are referred for investigation of their seizures will have a more severe phenotype and therefore worse outcomes. This sampling bias is problematic as it potentially reduces the external validity of these papers; that is, their findings may not be completely applicable to the general …
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