Message Number: FHL1688 | New FHL Archives Search
From: "Sukie Crandall"
Date: 2004-01-11 00:31:00 UTC
Subject: RE: [ferrethealth] RE: Raja: SERIOUS spinal bone degeneration and

Can ferrets develop (like humans) the bone disease? Like spinal
stenosis, a herniated disk or even DDD (disk degenerate disease)? Could
this be a possibility with Lily. I know Lisa is just beside herself trying
to figure out what is going on with Lily, and also Lily is still very young
2 and half years old.

Well, not knowing, I have only the usual options of looking while hoping those who are
more informed on this score will reply. (Now, there is common scenario; I spend a lot of
each day immersed in archives, vet texts, and references.)

Optonline has been very up and down for browser pop server access in recent weeks so I
might not be able to be an through as I would like, depending on how much it continues
to be down today on and off. Things have never been really right since they were doing
some cable replacements in the past in our town.

Here are the URLs of possible related past posts by vets but I am having to do a dirty
search rather than being careful about applicability or not missing things since I don't
know how soon we'll lose access again today so try one of your own, too, and also try
some of the non-vet results then:


From: "Sue Liszewski"
Message-ID: <>

Keep her clean and warm Continue the pred. Rest her for 1-2 weeks and
massage her back and rear legs and after some strict time to heal you can
try to swim her back end to help improve muxcle tone etc. Be sure all other
types of problems ruled out though, such as heart, insulinoma, adrenals,
etc. Don't want' to miss anything just in case. Best of luck to you both.

Dr. Sue

so I thought you might want to ask your vet if any of those should be tried now.


Message-ID: <>

Dear Paty:

I will first admit that looking at reduced radiographs online is no substit=
ute for looking at them up close and personal, but I fail to see all of the=
problems that are in the report, and I am somewhat concerned that the chan=
ges may be overinterpreted. I do believe that I see some spondylosis at L3=
-L4, but that certainly doesn't explain Raja's paresis. I don't see anythi=
ng of note in the interdisc spaces, and nothing in the cervical area. If t=
here were cervical problems, the front limbs would be affected as well. Po=
ssible lesions of spinous processes usually are of little clinical signific=
ance, as the spinous processes are the pointy parts pointing up toward the =
skin, and do not impinge on the spinal cord at all.

I have learned over the years not to over-interpret spinal radiographs in f=
errets. If anything, I might want to examine the lumbar spinal cord a litt=
le bit more, but I am not seeing a spinal degenerative process of note in t=
hese particular studies. In the States, at a large referral hospital, the =
next step would be a myelogram to trace the outline of the spinal cord itse=
lf. Interruptions in an outline points to a problem.

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, DVM



From: "Sue Liszewski"
Message-ID: <>

It really doesn't matter if they specialize in ferrets, I believe that your
vet can take recommendations based on another species and apply it to the
ferrtet, we have to do this all the time and it is better then just the same
thing you are doing with no real improvement. Do you have any veterinary
neurologist there? How about a Vet School? I think insights from what
others have done would help.

Raja was never placed on an antibiotic that penetrates the nervouse system
well, never on nervous system antiinflamatories, never tested for a fungal
organsism or other bacterial organism. If this were infectious not
cancerous then some of the tings MIGHT BE reversible. If it is not
infectious (rule it all out) then steroids are the best antiinflammatory for
the nervouse system.

I have treated other animals that have come in totally paralyzed and could
not stand. The animals had spinal fluid analysis, myelogram, cultures, etc
and it proved to be a menigioencephaomyelitis which is an inflammation of
the lining of the brain and spinal cord and the only treatment was steroids.
Yes rule out infectious causes because some can be made worse by steroids
but everything else can only benefit and if someone talks to a veterinary
neurologist they will find this is true.

When I was in vet school we learned that no animal should die without the
benefit of steroids. You don't know because they refuse to try. I am not
saying it will work but you don't know if you don't try. I just want to be
sure Raja has the best chance possible to come this. If it is not an
infectious menigitis or counterpart steroids can only help.

I will get off my soapbox for now, and this is all I can offer you. You
need to make the decisions. I hope Raja is happy. Best to you.

Dr. Sue

urges consultation with a veterinary neurologist

Well, I think based on your description, that we are probably dealing with a chordoma
rather than an osteosarcoma. I have seen several chordomas now which arise either on the
skull or in the neck vertebrae. There are some significant differences which may affect the
progression of this case.

Chrodomas are more infiltrative than osteosarcomas, and are more likely to infiltrate the
spinal cord earlier. Likely that this will occur in the area of the crevical vertebrae - the back
end of the skull is probably the farthest from critical structures.

Most ferets develop difficulty walking prior to showing a lot of pain from this condition. It
is likely that this ferret will lose the ability to move before it will be necesary to put her
down for pain.

While chordomas are far more common at the end of the tail, they may arise anywhere
along the spine, and due to their infiltrative nature, surgical excision in these locations are
not very useful.

With kidnest regards,

Bruce Williams, dVM
is about a swollen disc ans includes

Surgical treatment is certainly a possibility, as is further cage
rest and anti-inflammatory medicine. Sometimes these lesions can
take weeks to heal. If surgery is not a possibility and there is no
further return of function after an appropriate time period - ie,
not right now, she needs to be given time for cage rest to have a
chance - a wheelchair cart such as has been made by DoggonWheels or
K9Carts is very likely to restore joy to the ferret's life by giving
her more mobility.

Dr. Ruth
Save lives - spay or neuter your pet.
by Dr. Williams includes

The symptoms and radiographic signs that you describe,
unfortunately, are much more likley to be a bone tumor rather than an
infection. While osteosarcoma is a possibility, a much more likely
possibility is a chordoma. Not all chordomas arise at the tip of the
tail - they can pop up anywhere on the spinal column. The bad news
is that these are extremely aggressive lesions which over time will
invade and destroy the vertebra. With either a chordoma or an
osteosarcoma in this area with this radiographic presentation,
surgical excision is at this point only a stopgap measur and full
excision is not possible.

Clinical signs will probably continue to increase and movement will
continue to degrade. Most animals are euthanized prior to pathologic
fracture of the vertebra, but it is always a possibility.

While waiting for several weeks to see if it is osteomyelitis is one
way to go, a biopsy now would answer all of your questions. If it is
truely an infection, it could also be used for a culture and
sensitivity, or at least you would know that long-term high-dose
antibiotics are required.

Because my 93 year old father has been so ill with a terminal illness I have had little time
to spend with the newest (just very recently released) vet text here, _Ferret Husbandry,
Medicine and Surgery, second edition_ by John H. Lewington so I will grab that first, and
get back to you later with another post as time allows.

Sukie (not a vet)

Recommended ferret health links:

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