Extramedullary spinal cysts in dogs

Vet Surg. 2014 Aug;43(6):650-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-950X.2014.12200.x. Epub 2014 May 5.


Objective: To (1) synthesize the terminology used to classify extramedullary spinal cysts in dogs to clarify some of the commonly reported misconceptions, and (2) propose a classification scheme to limit confusion with terminology.

Study design: Literature review.

Methods: An online bibliographic search was performed in January 2013 for articles relating to extramedullary spinal cysts in dogs using PubMed (http://www.pubmed.gov/) and Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/) databases. Only peer-reviewed clinical literature describing cystic lesions pertaining to the spinal cord and associated structures was included.

Results: From 1962 to 2013, 42 articles were identified; 25 (95 dogs) reported meningeal cysts, 10 (24 dogs) described 60 extradural cysts, 3 reports (18 dogs) described discal cysts or acute compressive hydrated nucleus pulposus extrusions (HNPE). Spinal cysts were categorized by location based on cross-sectional imaging as meningeal or extradural non-meningeal. Sub-classification was then performed based on surgical findings and pathology. Meningeal cysts included arachnoid diverticulae and Tarlov (perineural) cysts. Extradural non-meningeal cysts included intraspinal cysts of the vertebral joints, ligaments and discs. Discal cysts also fit this category and have been reported extensively in humans but appear rare in dogs.

Conclusions: Extramedullary spinal cysts should be first classified according to location with a sub-classification according to pathologic and surgical findings. Previous canine cases of discal cysts appear to represent a different disease entity and the term acute compressive HNPE is therefore preferred.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachnoid Cysts / pathology
  • Arachnoid Cysts / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / classification
  • Dog Diseases / pathology*
  • Dogs
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / veterinary*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / veterinary*
  • Terminology as Topic