July 2014 Large animal case

July 2014

Brawn Cattle
2 and half years of age
Large wound on the back since weeks, not better with topic treatment
Radiograph of the caudal back was taken

Radiographic examination

Lateral view of the caudal back.

Radiographic findings and diagnosis

  • There is a radiolucent line across the caudal part of the body of the L5 vertebra, parallel to the end plate (arrow).
  • The caudal endplate is mild ventrally dislocated, resulting in an angulation of the vertebral canal.
  • There are ill defined mineral opacities in the area of the vertebral foramen L5-C1(arrow heads).
  • There is severe heterogenous radioopacity of the dorsal spinous processes of the sacrum, with multiple, extensive and coalascing areas of lysis (empty arrows). There are additional mineral opacities dorsal to the median sacral crest with moderate soft tissue swelling.

Radiographic examination

Close up of the lateral view of the caudal back. 


  • The radiographic diagnosis was: subacute to chronic fracture luxation of L5 with severe extensive osteomyelitis. Accompanying moderate soft tissue swelling (cellulitis, bleeding).
  • The cow was further treated for some days to allow her to give birth and then was euthanised.
  • The proposed pathophysiology was a trauma causing the fracture/luxation and likely soft tissue injury leading to infection and secondary osteomyelitis.
  • Alternatively, the fracture could have been pathologic secondary to the severe osteomyelitis.
  • Considering the relatively maintained radioopacity of the body of the vertrebra, anyway, the second possibility was considered less likely.