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Spinal fracture in Osiris the cat

Osiris presented to Hamilton Specialist Referrals (HSR) as an emergency following a fall from height. Sadly, he was unable to use his back legs. His first opinion veterinary practice promptly identified that Osiris was paraplegic and acquired some radiographs of his back. These revealed a high suspicion of a spinal fracture at the location identified by the red arrows on the below images.


Osiris was referred to HSR for emergency treatment. On presentation, Osiris was very bright and was using his front legs normally, but did not have use of his hindlimbs.

When patients are paraplegic due spinal fractures, provided they can feel their toes in the back legs then the prognosis for walking again is pretty good. In Osiris’ case he could only feel about 75% of his toes. The clients wanted to give Osiris every chance of recovery as he is a much loved cat and the team here at HSR were determined to help.

Osiris was assessed by our anaesthesia team and nurses who stabilised him so that he could be anaesthetised. Under a general anaesthetic, a CT of the back confirmed the fracture in his spine (red arrow on images below). The vertebral canal (green star) is where the spinal cord runs. The floor of the vertebral canal (blue lines) should be level and as you can see in the images there is a step in the floor, resulting in pressure on the spinal cord. The image on the right also shows a deviation in the spine (the purple lines should be straight), also adding pressure to the spinal cord. This pressure means that the neurotransmission pathway between the brain and legs is disrupted, which ultimately meant that Osiris couldn’t use his hindlimbs.


The surgeon involved (Andy Craig) recommended surgery and the clients wanted to proceed. Osiris was taken to theatre where the vertebra were approached through an incision in his back. Some of our surgical interns and neurology resident (Miguel Benito) assisted Andy and the vertebra were put back into a normal position with two metal plates and screws (yellow arrows in images below) used to stabilise the fracture. These implants will keep everything stable while the fracture heals. A CT scan was taken after the surgery and confirmed normal alignment. In the images below you can see the floor of the vertebral canal is level (blue line) and that there is no bend in the vertebra (purple line).


Osiris recovered well from surgery. He was kept in the hospital for a number of days for nursing care from our amazing wards nurses and interns. After a few days, Osiris started to move his legs a little and by the time he was discharged from hospital he could walk with support.

Our physiotherapy team provided the clients with some advice on how to best aid in Osiris’ recovery. A few weeks later Osiris was doing very well and had started sneaking up and down the stairs. His owners had to ensure that this was avoided as it was probably a little too much after a spinal fracture.

Osiris is a lovely little chap and it was a pleasure to treat him here at HSR. We are so pleased his is getting back to normal with his family at home

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