Fracture of the Spine Average Cost

From 585 quotes ranging from $2,000 - 6,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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What is Fracture of the Spine?

A cat’s spine is made up of 30 small bones or vertebrae, plus more for the tail, which fit together to house and protect the spinal cord. A fracture of the spine involves damage or breaks to the individual bones, which can put pressure on the the spine causing pain or even paralysis. This is a serious condition that requires emergency stabilization if more serious complications such as loss of mobility or bladder control are to be avoided.

A fractured spine involves damage to the bones of the backbone that protect the spinal cord, which, if severe, can result in paralysis.

Symptoms of Fracture of the Spine in Cats

Fractured bones are painful, and more specific symptoms depend on where the injury is (such as neck, chest, or lower back) and the pressure on the spinal cord. In addition, damage is often the result of trauma, and so other injuries may be present.

Signs of Trauma 

  • Bleeding wounds
  • Scuff injuries to the skin
  • Heavy or rapid breathing
  • Weakness and collapse
  • Fractures of the limbs or jaw

Pain  

  • Attempting to hide
  • Aggressive behavior when approached
  • Abnormal posture
  • Standing with the head down 
  • Unnaturally arched back

Impaired Nerve Function

  • Inability to walk
  • Dragging the back legs
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence

Causes of Fracture of the Spine in Cats

Bone fractures rarely occur spontaneously and are usually the result of trauma. The exception is certain bone cancers which weaken the bone, but these are rare. 

  • Falling from a height
  • Collision with a motor vehicle
  • Dog bites
  • Gunshot injuries
  • Running head first into a door or wall
  • Kicks or physical abuse
  • Bone cancer

Diagnosis of Fracture of the Spine in Cats

A cat in pain, showing signs of trauma, and with areas of numbness should be assumed to have spinal damage until proven otherwise. This means it is necessary to take care when moving the cat, so as not to cause further damage. 

The vet assesses the cat for shock and will provide immediate supportive care with intravenous fluids and pain relief if required. The vet examines the cat, paying particular attention to nerve function and any areas of poor sensation on the skin or limbs. This narrows down areas of the spine for investigation. 

Imaging is key to diagnosis, with x-rays being most cost effective. Taking great care to handle the spine gently, two views of each area of the spine are taken. This pinpoints areas of damage and maps out bone displacement. For greater detail of bone injuries, a CT scan may be performed, whilst an MRI scan is most useful for assessing the spinal cord. 

This provides vital information as to the nature of the injury (fracture, dislocation, or cancer), how severe the injury is, and the implications for repair and recovery.

Blood tests may be required to check for organ damage in the case of trauma, and to look for signs of metabolic disease which could weaken the bones.

Treatment of Fracture of the Spine in Cats

The vet administers pain relief and supportive care in order to stabilize the patient. A major worry is the movement of bone pieces and further damage the spinal cord, so the cat may be sedated or immobilized on a bodyboard. 

The vet may repeat neurological exams at regular intervals in order to check the patient's status. For those cases that are rapidly deteriorating, have severe spinal injuries, nerve damage, and poor chances of recovery, euthanasia may be the most humane option.

For the remainder, either strict rest or surgical stabilization are required. For minor fractures involving parts of the vertebra that don't impact on the spinal cord, then a body brace and cage rest for four to six weeks may be all that's necessary.

However, surgical intervention is often needed. The surgeon will assess the best way to stabilize the fracture from options including:

  • Pins
  • Plates
  • Screws
  • Wires
  • Cement polymers
  • External fixation devices

Surgery on the spine requires a high skill level, and complications can include poor alignment of the bone pieces, swelling putting pressure on the spine, infection, and movement of the implant. After successful surgery it is essential the owner keeps their pet confined, to reduce the risk of implants loosening or moving out of place. 

In addition, skin wounds may need debridement and suturing. The vet may also suggest neutering intact animals, in order to reduce the future risk of wandering and getting into accidents.

Recovery of Fracture of the Spine in Cats

The cat must be confined until the bones are healed. This may take anywhere from one to four months. During this time it may be necessary to nurse the cat and prevent them getting pressure sores or to manually express their bladder. 

Skin sutures from surgery are removed approximately 10 - 14 days later. The vet will perform follow up x-rays after about one month, to check that the position of any implants and that healing has started. Depending on how the cat responds clinically, final radiographs may be needed before the cat is signed off. Metal implants are usually left in place and only removed if they cause a problem.

Fracture of the Spine Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Bruce
tabby
One Year
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Spinal injuries

Hi our cat bruce has been walking very weird with his back legs and he is very sore and we took him to the vet they said he has a hole in his spine they think it's from some blood disease and when we brought him home he has been walking into walls land falling over and restless and now he cant controll his bladder he seems to have no depth of perception and gets runs into to everything. I know he's in pain I just don't know if I should put him down or let him try to get better but I think he's past that stage he's like a zombie no expression acts like he has no pain but seems completely out of it

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
876 Recommendations
Without seeing Bruce, and knowing more about the cause of his condition, it is difficult for me to comment on his quality of life, or if he will recover. I'm sorry that that is happening to him. It would be best to follow up with your veterinarian, as they are aware of his condition and can help you assess his quality of life, and whether he will be able to recover from this problem.

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Luna
Chinese li hua
10 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Isn't eating
Sleepiness
Cant Move Legs
Tried to hide

I'm not quite sure what my cat has but I'm so scared. She isn't able to walk properly and her back looks kind of flatten out. She tried to hide today in my closet too. She's been lying down all day and whenever she tries to move, she meows in pain We plan to go to the vet first thing in the morning. I hope by morning it's not too late.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2318 Recommendations
Without examining Luna I cannot say what specific is wrong, but between now and visiting your Veterinarian you should restrict her movement so that she doesn’t cause any further injury (I find a car carrier helps). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Posie
mixed
7 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

No feeling in back legs

My precious cat had a spinal injury a few weeks ago, likey hit by a car, and dragged herself to our door. She could not move her back legs and had scraped sores on her legs dragging herself home. The emergency vet examined her and said that the prognosis was very poor, no feeling at all in her back legs and panting with pain and in shock. I made the decision to euthanize but am so heartbroken wondering after all if there was any chance to bring her back to functioning. I cannot get over the pain of losing this sweet cat and am sick that perhaps I could have done more.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
876 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, outdoor cats often succumb to trauma. From your description, you made the best decision, as Posie sounds like she was in great pain after such a traumatic event. I am sorry for your loss.

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Dutchess
Sally cat
7 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Unusual timidness
Weird walk
Crooked spine
Sensitive to touch
Cries out

I have a older female cat. She’s 7, and she in heat. I think she may have got hit by a car or landed wrong on her feet. She squalls out in Pain when I pick her up and her back seems to be kinda crooked. She can’t sit all the way down and is super scared. She’s been hiding under the bed since I brought her in today.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
876 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I am sad for Dutchess - she needs to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. She's painful, she's scared, ad she's hiding. Your veterinarian will be able to examine her, determine if she is inured, or if she has a uterine infection, or what might be going on with her, and get her treatment so that she is comfortable. I hope that she is okay, and that she recovers well.

Hello please my cat was attacked by another cat before some months, she can't walk using the back legs, but she can move them when they touch water or something liquid, i took her to the veterinary and she said that she needs a surgery in the her back because there's some distortion on it and it's the cause of that she can't walk, and unfortunately there's no one can do it in my country.

Please can you help ?? Tell me what to do please

Thank you. I’m going to try and get her to the vet as soon as I get the money to.

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Figaro
Persian
18 Months
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Paralysis

The X Rays suggest that there is a small fracture in the joint, but the spinal cord is not damaged as the cat is responding to pain in his rear legs and tail also. Also, some compression can be seen in the spine. Figaro can only move his neck, hands and legs but not able to walk. What do you suggest doctor? Will he be fine?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2318 Recommendations
Further to your earlier question, if there is some spinal cord compression and a fracture of the spine it may be a case that Figaro requires surgical stabilisation of the spine to help healing of the fracture and to relieve compression of the spinal cord. The overall severity would be dependent on the x-rays and findings during a physical examination; your Veterinarian should suggest to you the course of action as no two cases are the same. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Figaro
Persian
18 Months
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Not able to walk

My cat has a fracture in spinal bone and compression. He is not able to walk. Not having food also. He had a fall fron 4th floor of our building yesterday morning.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2318 Recommendations
A four storey fall is going to be traumatic for Figaro and if his spine is fractured, surgical stabilisation may not be enough; without examining him and seeing his x-rays I cannot comment on his prognosis. It may be that he remains paralysed after his fall. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

The X Rays suggest that there is a small fracture in the joint, but the spinal cord is not damaged as the cat is responding to pain in his rear legs and tail also. Also, some compression can be seen in the spine. Figaro can only move his neck, hands and legs but not able to walk. What do you suggest doctor? Will he be fine?

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