Prostatic Cysts in Ferrets

Summary Information

Diseases / List of Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names --
Disease Agents
  • Prostatic cysts are common in male ferrets. (B629.13.w13, B631.27.w27)
    • Both septic and sterile cysts may occur. (B602.4.w4)
    • The cysts may become inflamed or develop into an abscess. (J513.3.w5)
    • The cysts may link to the bladder. (J213.6.w4, J513.3.w5)
  • Androgens are thought to stimulate prostatic tissue proliferation, leading to cyst development. (B602.4.w4, B631.27.w27)
  • This disease is usually secondary to adrenal disease (Adrenocortical Neoplasia in Ferrets). (B602.4.w4, B629.13.w13, B631.27.w27, J213.6.w4)
  • Often affecting ferrets over the age of 2 years. (J213.6.w4)
Infectious Agent(s) --
Non-infectious Agent(s) --
Physical Agent(s) --
General Description
Clinical signs
In Ferrets
  • Signs of urinary obstruction (B629.13.w13): pollakiuria (increased urinary frequency) (B232.13.w13, B631.27.w27) or dysuria (B631.27.w27), depending on whether obstruction is partial or total.
  • Urinary dribbling/incontinence (B631.27.w27, J513.3.w5), with wet fur and increased licking of the prepuce. (B631.27.w27)
  • In cases with abscessation, thick yellow discharge with urination. (B602.4.w4)
  • Signs of abdominal pain including tooth grinding, arched back while walking and cryiong out while urinating. (B631.27.w27) 
  • These ferrets may show other clinical signs of adrenal disease, such as: 
    • Pruritus. (B631.27.w27, J213.6.w4)
    • Hair loss. (B631.27.w27, J513.3.w5)
    • Increased sexual behaviour. (B631.27.w27)
    • Increased musk smell. (B631.27.w27, J213.6.w4)
Further Information
In Ferrets

Gross pathology

  • The cysts can be 1 cm or larger. (B602.4.w4)
  • The cysts can extend to the neck of the bladder. (J213.6.w4)
  • Urethra obstruction or partial obstruction by the prostatic cysts. (J513.3.w5)
  • Inflamed prostatic tissue. (J213.6.w4)


  • The glandular epithelium shows squamous metaplasia. (B602.4.w4, B631.27.w27, J513.3.w5)
  • Multiple cysts, filled with keratin, proteinaceous debris and neutrophils. (B602.4.w4, B631.27.w27, J513.3.w5)
  • Glandular tissue may contain low numbers of neutrophils and fewer macrophages, lymphocytes and plasma cells. (B602.4.w4)
In Ferrets
  • Clinical examination
    • The prostate in a ferret is normally not palpable, however, if the prostate is swollen it can be detected caudodorsal to the bladder. (B232.13.w13, B629.13.w13, J513.3.w5)
    • The prostate is often doubled in size (B602.4.w4, B631.27.w27) and may be as large as the bladder. (J513.3.w5)
  • Radiography:
    • A mass dorsal to the bladder, with the bladder displaced ventally. (B602.4.w4)
    • Contrast cystography may help in the diagnosis of prostatic cysts. (B232.13.w13, B602.4.w4)
  • Ultrasonography
    • Ultrasonography may show prostatic enlargement and prostatic cystic structures. (J213.6.w4, J513.3.w5)
    • Ultrasonography may assist in the diagnosis of adrenal disease. (B631.27.w27)
  • Urinalysis may show an increase of white blood cells, red blood cells and bacteria. (J513.3.w5)
  • Complete blood count: A raised white cell count and low red blood cell count are expected. (J513.3.w5)
  • Exploratory laporotomy may be required. (J513.3.w5) See: Laparotomy in Ferrets
  • Cystic fluid bacterial culture and sensitivity testing. (B602.4.w4, J513.3.w5)
  • Analgesia should be given. (B631.27.w27) See Treatment and Care - Analgesia
  • Prior to any surgery, relieve urethral obstruction and stabilise the ferret. (J513.3.w5)
    • Urethral Catheterization in Ferrets, urethrotomy or temporary cystostomy can be used where there is a urinary obstruction. (B631.27.w27, J513.3.w5) Cystocentesis can be used to empty the bladder but this should not be used repeatedly. (J513.3.w5)
    • Correct electrolyte imbalances. (B631.27.w27)
    • Cephalosporin antibiotics may be necessary. (J513.3.w5)
  • Drainage of the prostatic cysts:
    • This may not be needed in simple cystic prostatic hypertrophy, in which removal of the adrenal glands may be sufficient. (J513.3.w5)
    • Omentalization has been said to reduce the size of small cystic structures. (J213.6.w4)
    • Marsupialisation of the prostatic cyst/abscess to the ventral body wall. (B631.27.w27, J513.3.w5)
      • Make a 1 cm paramedial ventral abdominal incision. (J513.3.w5)
      • Use 4-0 monofilament absorbable suture material in a simple interrupted suture pattern to attach the prostatic mucosa to the skin. (J513.3.w5)
      • Fluid mayan be drained from the stoma by gentle pressure on the prostate. (J513.3.w5)
      • Once drainage ceases, the stoma will heal by secondary intention. (J513.3.w5)
    • Flushing of prostatic abscesses followed by marsupialisation has been used. (J513.3.w5)
    • Debulking/removal of abnormal prostatic tissue has been carried out, but when infection is present, peritonitis may develop. (J513.3.w5)
  • Surgically remove the adrenal glands. (B232.13.w13, J513.3.w5) See: Adrenocortical Neoplasia in Ferrets
    • This results in reducing androgen levels, which in turn reduces the prostatic cystic structures within days. (J213.6.w4)
    • Administration of leuprolide acetate (a gonadotropin releasing hormone analogue) may be useful to down-regulate luteinising hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone production, thereby reducing production of androgen from the adrenal gland (since adrenelactomy may nor remove all the adrenal tissue). (J513.3.w5)
Associated Techniques
Host taxa groups /species
Author Bridget Fry BSc, RVN (V.w143)

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