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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Spinal Infections and Tumors




Condition Overview

Infections of the vertebrae, discs, and spinal cord are uncommon. Tumors can involve the spinal cord, nerve roots, or structures around the cord.


Symptoms are caused by the compression of the cord or the nerves coming out of the cord. Benign neoplasms such as meningiomas, and bony growths called osteophytes, may also cause compression. Malignant tumors include osteosarcomas and lymphosarcomas.


Most bacterial infection occur after trauma or from infected wounds close to the spine. Viral, fungal, rickettsial, and protozoan diseases that cause encephalitis can also cause spinal cord infections (known as myelitis).


The diagnosis of myelitis is made by spinal tap and cerebrospinal fluid analysis.


Treatment of myelitis involves the long-term use of antibiotics, selected after culture and sensitivity tests. Surgery may be necessary to remove a foreign body, drain an abscess, obtain material for testing, or relieve pressure on the spinal cord.

Some benign tumors can be removed surgically. Malignant tumors are not usually removable but may respond temporarily to radiation and/or chemotherapy.


There is no prevention for this condition.


Please contact your veterinarian with questions regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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