Dog: Bone Cyst

General information

Bone cysts are located within the bone marrow cavity or located underneath the cartilage (subchondral).


Bone cysts can be caused by trauma, blood clot formation, increased numbers of bone melting cells (osteoclasts), obstruction of blood within veins in the bone or idiopathic (unknown) fluid accumulation. Cysts have also been seen in dogs with osteochondrosis. In dogs less than 18 months of age, a hereditary link is suspected in Doberman pinschers and Old English sheepdogs. Older dogs may develop cysts secondary to osteosarcoma.

Cardinal symptom



Some dogs with bone cysts will show no clinical signs. However, lameness, swelling and pain when touched may be present. In rare cases, the bone may break at the location of the cyst.


Diagnosis of a bone cyst can be made from a radiograph. Advanced imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT) can aid in the diagnosis. In some cases, a biopsy of the cyst is needed to distinguish from osteosarcoma.


Most bone cysts are removed with surgery. Occasionally, these cysts will heal spontaneously or be located in a position that does not require treatment.


The prognosis is good for bone cysts that are removable with surgery. Cysts that cannot be completely removed or are associated with cancer have a poorer prognosis.

Update version: 4/24/2014, © Copyright by
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