Dermoid Cysts

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    What Are Dermoid Cysts?

    Dermoid cysts, also called dermoid sinuses, are rare congenital developmental abnormalities that occur in young dogs and cats. Cysts are sac-like cavities that develop within the skin and are filled with fluid, semisolid, cheesy or doughy material.

    These cysts are similar to epidermoid cysts, but are more complex in structure and are also found in ovaries and testicles. They come in several varieties, including follicular or epidermoid, dermoid, apocrine, and sebaceous duct cysts.

    Clinical Presentations

    A small pore usually connects the cyst to the skin surface, and hair may protrude through the pore. In some cases, the cysts may extend deep into the dog’s back to the level of the meninges and need to be evaluated radiographically. Dermoid cysts often develop along the back (as in Rhodesian Ridgebacks), but may be found in other areas.

    Susceptible Dog Breeds

    Boxers and Kerry Blue Terriers are reported to have an increased incidence. Dermoid sinus is thought to be a heritable condition, especially in Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs.1


    Treatment consists of surgical removal of the cyst. Attempted manual expulsion of the cyst content using finger pressure should not be performed under any circumstances, since rupture of the cysts may result in intense local skin irritation and inflammation.


    The prognosis is usually good.

    Video Credits: Dr. Thomas Laube
    Image Credits: The Andys Veterinary Hospital


    1. Curtis W. Dewey – A Practical Guide to Canine and Feline Neurology
    2. Barrios et al. – Spinal Dermoid Sinus In A Dachshund With Vertebral And Thoracic Limb Malformations


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