Sacral Fractures in Cats
Isolated fractures of the sacrum are infrequently encountered in veterinary medicine. More commonly, this type of fracture occurs in conjunction with other fractures of the pelvis and is usually a result of trauma. The sacrum in cats is a bone in the lower back formed from vertebrae and located between the hip bones.
The pain and neurological deficits are caused by compression or disruption of the nerves that pass through the sacrum from the spinal cord to the hind legs, urinary and anal sphincters and tail. The resulting neurological deficits may be temporary or permanent, depending on the degree of nerve injury.
The potential long-term effects of these fractures range from none to life-long neurological dysfunction.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Sacral Fractures in Cats
A thorough physical examination is very important. Since sacral fractures are usually a result of significant trauma, other injuries may be present. No laboratory tests are required to make the diagnosis, but additional tests may include:
Treatment of Sacral Fractures in Cats
Emergency care may be required for concurrent problems caused by the trauma. Treatment of the sacral fracture may be delayed until life threatening issues are under control. After stabilization, additional treatments may include:
Home Care and Prevention
If the fracture is your cat’s only problem and it is managed conservatively, your cat usually will be confined for a period of 6 to 8 weeks while the bone heals and, hopefully, neurological function returns.
If surgical repair of the fracture is used, your cat may also be restricted from activity for several weeks and the skin incision will be monitored while he is healing.
Neurological deficits may take many days to several months to return (if they return at all). During this period, your pet may continue having difficulty walking on one or both hind legs and may continue to have urinary or fecal incontinence and need continual nursing care to prevent skin problems.
A recheck appointment with your veterinarian may occur in several weeks to evaluate how the bone is healing (with new radiographs (x-rays)), to monitor your cat’s neurological progress and to make sure it is safe to increase your cat’s activity level.
Many traumatic events are true accidents and thus unavoidable. Avoid the chance for motor vehicle trauma by keeping your cat indoors.