Partially-paralysed cat back on all fours after treatment at Paragon

A kitten is recovering after we diagnosed and treated an extremely rare spinal condition.

Tiger, a domestic short-haired cat, has improved dramatically after treatment for epidural empyema – a septic process which occurs within the epidural space.

Initially his vets thought Tiger was showing signs of trauma, as he was guarding his hind quarters, so was treated with antibiotics and the anti-inflammatory drug meloxicam.

The following week he developed an abscess on the base of his tail, which was drained, but he became progressively weaker on both hind legs to the point of partial paralysis.

He was referred to Paragon and assessed by Turlough O’Neill, our RCVS Specialist in Small Animal Surgery (Orthopaedics) and European Specialist in Small Animal Surgery, who eventually treated the condition with a course of antibiotics.

Severe inflammation

Initial assessment revealed severe lumbar pain, with hind limb weakness.  Tiger had some voluntary movement in both hind limbs but was unable to stand, walk or have coordinated movement in either hind limb, and had an increased temperature.

Tiger was hospitalised for treatment and further investigations, where blood tests confirmed the presence of an inflammatory process.

An MRI scan revealed a dramatic spinal cord compression with multiple areas of fluid accumulation and inflammation compressing the cord, all of which are consistent with epidural empyema.

Samples of fluid from the epidural space and intradural space revealed a severe neutrophilic inflammatory reaction and the presence of some bacteria.

Tiger was placed on antibiotic therapy and analgesia and over the following 72 hours he improved rapidly, to the point of being able to stand and move around, and was able to urinate once more.

Rare condition

Turlough said: “Epidural empyema is a rare condition. This is one of only a handful of cases of empyema that I have diagnosed and treated. It is not surprising that most veterinarians will never have come across this condition and therefore diagnosis can be difficult.

“We were delighted with Tiger`s rapid recovery.  He had been in a lot of pain so we were thrilled to get to the bottom of what was causing this and to get him on the road to recovery.”

Tiger’s pain decreased dramatically and he was sent home with a six-week course of antibiotics, which enabled him to make a full recovery.