Narrowing of Vertebral Canal in Cats

Alex German
Apr 11, 2010
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Lumbosacral Stenosis and Cauda Equina Syndrome in Cats


Cauda Equina Syndrome involves narrowing of vertebral canal, which results in compression of spinal nerve roots in lumber and sacrum regions. A cat's spine is composed of multiple bones with disks located in between adjacent bones called vertebrae. Seven cervical vertebrae are located in neck (C1-C7), thirteen thoracic vertebrae present from the area of shoulder to end of ribs (T1-T13), seven lumbar vertebrae are present in the area that starts from end of ribs to pelvis (L1-L7) and remaining vertebrae are called sacral and coccygeal (tail) vertebrae.


Pressure to or damage of the nerves within the spinal canal in the junction area between the lumbar and sacral vertebrae (sometimes called the cauda equine) due to narrowing of spinal canal can lead to this condition, also known as the cauda equina syndrome. This syndrome is rarely found in cats as compared to dogs. It can be seen in cats born with this problem (congenital) or acquire it in later life.


Symptoms and Types


  • Lameness
  • Pain in lumber and sacral regions
  • Pelvic limb weakness and muscle wasting
  • Weakness or paralysis of tail
  • Abnormal tail carriage
  • Urine and fecal incontinence (in some animals)




As stated earlier, cauda equina syndrome can either be a congenital or acquired condition, brought on by the instability of the lumbosacral junction or protrusion of disk between adjacent vertebrae.




You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination as well a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count -- the results of which are usually within normal range, unless some other concurrent disease is also present. Radiographic studies usually reveal valuable information for diagnosis. But for definitive diagnosis, your pet’s veterinarian will typically conduct Computed Tomography (CT-Scan) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) testing.


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