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Treatment of thoracolumbar spinal cord compression associated with Histoplasma capsulatum infection in a cat

Arathi VinayakDepartment of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474.

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Sharon C. KerwinDepartment of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474.

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Roy R. PoolDepartment of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474.

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Abstract

Case Description—A 7-year-old domestic shorthair cat with a 2-month history of decreased appetite and weight loss was examined because of paraparesis of 1 week's duration that had progressed to paraplegia 3 days earlier.

Clinical Findings—Neurologic examination revealed normo- to hyperreflexia and absence of deep pain sensation in the hind limbs and thoracolumbar spinal hyperesthesia. Neuro-anatomically, the lesion was located within the T3 through L3 spinal cord segments. Biochemical analysis and cytologic examination of CSF revealed no abnormalities. Radiography revealed narrowing of the T11-12 intervertebral disk space and intervertebral foramen suggestive of intervertebral disk disease. Myelography revealed an extradural mass centered at the T12-13 intervertebral disk space with extension over the dorsal surfaces of T11-13 and L1 vertebral bodies.

Treatment and Outcome—A right-sided hemilaminectomy was performed over the T11-12, T12-13, and T13-L1 intervertebral disk spaces, and a space-occupying mass was revealed. Aerobic bacterial culture of samples of the mass yielded growth of a yeast organism after a 10-day incubation period; histologically, Histoplasma capsulatum was identified. Treatment with itraconazole was initiated. Nineteen days after surgery, superficial pain sensation and voluntary motor function were evident in both hind limbs. After approximately 3.5 months, the cat was ambulatory with sling assistance and had regained some ability to urinate voluntarily.

Clinical Relevance—In cats with myelopathies that have no overt evidence of fungal dissemination, differential diagnoses should include CNS histoplasmosis. Although prognosis associated with fungal infections of the CNS is generally guarded, treatment is warranted and may have a positive outcome.

Abstract

Case Description—A 7-year-old domestic shorthair cat with a 2-month history of decreased appetite and weight loss was examined because of paraparesis of 1 week's duration that had progressed to paraplegia 3 days earlier.

Clinical Findings—Neurologic examination revealed normo- to hyperreflexia and absence of deep pain sensation in the hind limbs and thoracolumbar spinal hyperesthesia. Neuro-anatomically, the lesion was located within the T3 through L3 spinal cord segments. Biochemical analysis and cytologic examination of CSF revealed no abnormalities. Radiography revealed narrowing of the T11-12 intervertebral disk space and intervertebral foramen suggestive of intervertebral disk disease. Myelography revealed an extradural mass centered at the T12-13 intervertebral disk space with extension over the dorsal surfaces of T11-13 and L1 vertebral bodies.

Treatment and Outcome—A right-sided hemilaminectomy was performed over the T11-12, T12-13, and T13-L1 intervertebral disk spaces, and a space-occupying mass was revealed. Aerobic bacterial culture of samples of the mass yielded growth of a yeast organism after a 10-day incubation period; histologically, Histoplasma capsulatum was identified. Treatment with itraconazole was initiated. Nineteen days after surgery, superficial pain sensation and voluntary motor function were evident in both hind limbs. After approximately 3.5 months, the cat was ambulatory with sling assistance and had regained some ability to urinate voluntarily.

Clinical Relevance—In cats with myelopathies that have no overt evidence of fungal dissemination, differential diagnoses should include CNS histoplasmosis. Although prognosis associated with fungal infections of the CNS is generally guarded, treatment is warranted and may have a positive outcome.

Contributor Notes

The authors thank David Sessum and Dr. Mary A. Christ for assistance with patient rehabilitation.

Address correspondence to Dr. Vinayak.