Idiopathic sterile inflammation of the epidural fat and epaxial muscles causing paraplegia in a mixed-breed dog

Cornelis I, De Decker S, Gielen I, et al. 

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2013;242:1405-1409.

Case Description-A 4-year-old sexually intact male mixed-breed dog was evaluated because of clinical signs of acute-onset pelvic limb ataxia, rapidly progressing to paraplegia with severe spinal hyperesthesia. Clinical Findings-General physical examination revealed pyrexia, tachycardia, and tachypnea. Neurologic examination demonstrated severe spinal hyperesthesia and paraplegia with decreased nociception. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed extradural spinal cord compression at T13-L1 and hyperintense lesions on T1- and T2-weighted images in the epaxial musculature and epidural space. Treatment and Outcome-Decompressive surgery, consisting of a continuous dorsal laminectomy, with copious lavage of the vertebral canal was performed. Cultures of blood, urine, and surgical site samples were negative. Histologic examination results for samples obtained during surgery demonstrated suppurative myositis and steatitis. These findings confirmed a diagnosis of sterile idiopathic inflammation of the epidural fat and epaxial muscles with spinal cord compression. The dog’s neurologic status started to improve 1 week after surgery. After surgery, the dog received supportive care including antimicrobials and NSAIDs. The dog was ambulatory 1 month after surgery and was fully ambulatory despite signs of mild bilateral pelvic limb ataxia 3 years after surgery. Clinical Relevance-Although idiopathic sterile inflammation of adipose tissue, referred to as panniculitis, more commonly affects subcutaneous tissue, its presence in the vertebral canal is rare. Specific MRI findings described in this report may help in reaching a presumptive diagnosis of this neurologic disorder. A definitive diagnosis and successful long-term outcome in affected patients can be achieved by decompressive surgery and histologic examination of surgical biopsy samples.