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Ciência Rural

Print version ISSN 0103-8478On-line version ISSN 1678-4596

Cienc. Rural vol.27 no.3 Santa Maria July/Aug. 1997 





Claudio Severo Lombardo de Barros1




A case compression of the spinal cord in a horse by a tumor located in the vertebra is described. A 10-year-old gelding was euthanized after being found recumbent with hind limb paresis of unknown duration. At necropsy an hemangiosarcoma was detected in the vertebral body of T3. The tumoral mass invaded upwards through the bone tissue of the vertebral body into the vertebral canal, compressing the spinal cord and causing Wallerian degeneration at T1-3 levels of the cord.

Key words: bone tumors, equine, pathology.



É relatado um caso de compressão da medula espinhal em um cavalo por um tumor localizado na vértebra. Um eqüino, macho, castrado de 10 anos de idade foi sacrificado após ser encontrado em decúbito com paresia dos membros posteriores de duração desconhecida. Na necropsia, um hemangiossarcoma foi detectado no corpo da vértebra T3. A massa invadia o tecido ósseo do corpo da vértebra, penetrava o canal vertebral e comprimia a medula espinhal, causando degeneração walleriana ao nível dos segmentos T1-3.

Palavras-chave: tumores ósseos, eqüino, patologia.



Hemangiosarcomas (angiosarcoma, malignant hemangioendothelioma) are malignant tumors arising from precursor cells of vascular endothelium (POOL, 1990) and thus can occur at any site. Among domestic animals they are reported more frequently in the spleen, heart, liver and lungs of dogs (PULLEY & STANNARD, 1990). Hemangiosarcomas are uncommon tumors in horses and those arising in bone tissue are particularly rare in this species (SUNDBERG et al., 1977; POOL, 1990).

We report and hemangiosarcoma arising in the vertebra of a horse and compressing the spinal cord.



A 10-year-old, mixed breed gelding was found recumbent with paraparesis. Neurological signs were not observed prior to that but may have been neglected since the horse was at pasture and was not observed regularly. At presentation rectal prolapse, flacidity and lack of deep pain response in the hind limbs were noticed. The horse was euthanized and necropsied (Pathology Protocol # Vn-215-93).



At post-mortem examination, there were locally extensive subcutaneous edema and echymosis in the head attributed to self inflicted trauma during struggling. Within the vertebral canal of T3, ventral to the spinal cord, two 2.0x1.0x0.5cm soft, dark red, epidural masses, protude from each side of the canal and compressed both sides of the spinal cord. In trransverse cut sections of T3 these masses revealed to be continuous with similar proliferation within the vertebral body. Bone tissue at these areas was replaced by this soft, moist, and dark red mass. Adjacent soft tissues and other vertebrae were not envolved.

On microscopic examination, the mass consisted of large pleomorphic spindle cells with indistinet cytoplasmic limits and large, round to oval, somewhat vesicular nuclei with coarse granular chromatin and prominent single or multiple nucleoli. Mitosis averaged one per high power field. These cells were arranged in interlacing bundles which enclosed blood-filled spaces (Figure 1); the bundles were surrounded by fine strands of connective tissue stroma. Thrombosis and large areas of necrosis were abundant within the tumor mass. In many areas neoplastic cells appear invading the bone tissue. Lesions in the spinal cord envolved segments of T1-3 and consisted of severe Wallerian degeneration. There were vacuolation of the white matter funiculi and ballooning of axons. Lesions gradually diminished towards T4 and eventually were absent at T5 and in the more caudal cord segments.



The vertebral body of T3 was considered to be the primary site of the tumor since no other masses were found up on carefully post mortem examination. Hemangiosarcomas arising in bones are, to the best of our knowledge, not previously reported in horses although hemangiosarcomas arising in the vertebrae of a cow (ZACHARY et al., 1981) and in the paravertebral musculature of a horse (KENNEDY & BROWN,1993) with resultsant cord compresion are described. Primary sites for hemangiosarcomas in horses in previous described cases are skeletal musculature or paravertebral vasculature (KENNEDY & BROWN, 1993), although in most cases the origin was undetermined.

The malignant nature of the neoplasm in this case was evident by the invasion of bone tissue of T3 vertebral body and by the histological aspects. From the vertebral body the tumor penetrated the vertebral canal and compressed the spinal cord at this level with resultant segmentar Wallerian degeneration. The paresis and other clinical signs observed in this horse are attributable to the spinal cord lesion.

Spinal cord compression by neoplasms are uncommon causes of progressive neurological signs in horses. Other reported tumors causing spinal cord compression in horses include plasm cell myeloma (DREW GREATOREX, 1974), fibrosarcoma (REINERTSON, 1974), lymphosarcoma (SHAMIS, et al., l984), melanoma (SCHOTT et al., 1990), and hemangiosarcoma (KENNEDY & BROWN, 1993).



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POOL, R.R. Tumors of bone and cartilage. In: MOULTON, J.E. Tumors in domestic animals. 3 ed. Berkeley: California University Press, 1990. Cap. 5, p. 204-206.         [ Links ]

PULLEY, L.T., STANNARD, A.A. Tumors of the skin and soft tissues. In: MOULTON, J.E. Tumors in domestic animals. 3 ed. Berkeley: California University Press, 1990. Cap. 2, p. 47-48.         [ Links ]

REINERTSON, E.L. Fibrosarcoma in a horse. Cornell Vet, v. 64, p. 617-621, 1974.         [ Links ]

SHAMIS, L.D., EVERITT, J.I., BAKER, G.J. Lymphosarcoma as the cause of ataxia in a horse. J Am Vet Med Assoc, v. 184, p. 1517-1518, 1984.         [ Links ]

SCHOTT, H.C., MAJOR M.D., GRANT, B.D., et al. Melanoma as a cause of spinal cord compression in two horses. J Am Vet Med Assoc, v. 196, p. 1820-1822, 1990.         [ Links ]

SUNDBERG, J.P., BURNSTEIN, T., PAGE, E.H. et al. Neoplasms of equidae. J Am Vet Med Assoc, v. 170, p. 150-152, 1977.         [ Links ]

ZACHARY, J.F., MESFIN, M.G., WOLFF, W.A. Multicentric osseous hemangiosarcoma in a Chianina-Angus steer. Vet Pathol, v. 18, p. 266-270, 1981.         [ Links ]



1 Veterinarian, PhD, Professor Titular do Departamento de Patologia da Universidade Federal de Santa Maria (UFSM), 97119-900 - Santa Maria, RS. Bolsista do CNPq (350938/91-1).


Recebido para publicação em 10.01.97. Aprovado em 05.03.97.

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