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July 2014

Horse: Third cervical vertebra: Vertebral hemangiosarcoma with (pathologic) fracture of the spinous process

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Animal:
Horse, draught horse, 21 years, gelding

Diagnosis:
Third cervical vertebra: Vertebral hemangiosarcoma with (pathologic) fracture of the spinous process

Description:
The caudal portion of the spinous process of the third cervical vertebra was fractured due to hemangiosarcoma.

Comments:
The horse presented clinically with mild symptoms of abdominal pain. During the clinical examination rotation of the cervical vertebral column was painful, and radiographically a fracture of the third cervical vertebra was detected/ found. The gelding was euthanized.
Necropsy and subsequent maceration of the third cervical vertebra revealed an intraosseous osteolytic process with replacement of bone by a dark red and fraible mass. Multifocal to coalescing haemorrhages were present in the adjacent muscles which were by histology attributable to local invasion of the hemangiosarcoma. Immunohistochemical staining for von Willebrand factor (FVIII-related antigen) confirmed the diagnosis.
Hemangiosarcoma in horses are uncommon and few authors considered skeletal muscle or lung as primary site of origin with a tendency to metastasize. Only few case reports described hemangiosarcoma in vertebrae, probably originating from paravertebral vessels in horses.
Picture and authored by: Anja Ostrowski, Department of Veterinary Pathology, Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, Germany