Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are a health care professional

honeypot link
Professional Version

Neoplasia of the Spinal Column and Cord in Animals


William B. Thomas

, DVM, DACVIM-Neurology, Small Animal Neurology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee

Reviewed/Revised Oct 2021 | Modified Nov 2022
Topic Resources

In dogs, neoplasms commonly affecting the spinal cord include osteosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, meningioma, nerve sheath tumor, and metastatic neoplasia. Nephroblastoma occurs in young dogs (5–36 months of age), with German Shepherd Dogs affected most commonly. This tumor is consistently located within the dura mater between T10 and L2, causing progressive paraparesis. Diagnosis of spinal neoplasia is based on radiography, myelography, CT or MRI, and surgical biopsy. Surgical excision is possible in some cases; in general, however, prognosis is poor.

In cats, lymphoma is the most common neoplasia to affect the spinal cord. Adult cats of any age can be affected. There is an acute or slowly progressive onset of clinical signs referable to a focal, often painful, lesion of the spinal cord. Approximately 85% of affected cats have positive test results for FeLV Feline Leukemia Virus , and many have leukemic bone marrow. Myelography, CT, or MRI shows extradural compression. Treatment consists of combination chemotherapy, such as prednisone, vincristine, and cyclophosphamide. Remission is possible in many cases; however, long-term prognosis is poor.

In cattle, lymphosarcoma may develop in the epidural space at any level, causing spinal cord compression. Often, there is an acute onset of paraparesis or recumbency. Usually, there is other evidence of bovine leukosis Bovine Leukosis . Definitive diagnosis is based on histopathologic findings.

Neoplasia is a rare cause of spinal cord disease in horses, pigs, sheep, and goats.

quiz link

Test your knowledge

Take a Quiz!