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Comparison of results of thoracic radiography, cytologic evaluation of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and histologic evaluation of lung specimens in dogs with respiratory tract disease: 16 cases (1996–2000)

Carol R. NorrisDepartment of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8734.

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Stephen M. GriffeyDepartments of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8734.

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Valerie F. SamiiDepartment of Surgery and Radiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8734.
Present address is the Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43235.

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Mary M. ChristopherDepartments of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8734.

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Matthew S. MellemaDepartment of Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8734.

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Abstract

Objective—To compare results of thoracic radiography, cytologic evaluation of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, and histologic evaluation of biopsy and necropsy specimens in dogs with respiratory tract disease and to determine whether histologic evaluation provides important diagnostic information not attainable by the other methods.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—16 dogs.

Procedure—BAL fluid was classified as normal, neutrophilic, eosinophilic, mononuclear, mixed, neoplastic, or nondiagnostic. Radiographic abnormalities were classified as interstitial, bronchial, bronchointerstitial, or alveolar. Histologic lesions were classified as inflammatory, fibrotic, or neoplastic, and the predominant site of histologic lesions was classified as the alveoli, interstitium, or airway.

Results—The predominant radiographic location of lesions correlated with the histologic location in 8 dogs. Of 11 dogs with histologic evidence of inflammatory disease, 8 had inflammatory BAL fluid. Of the 2 dogs with histologic evidence of neoplasia, 1 had BAL fluid suggestive of neoplasia, and the other had BAL fluid consistent with septic purulent inflammation. Two dogs without any histologic abnormalities had mononuclear or nondiagnostic BAL fluid. Two dogs with histologic evidence of fibrosis had mononuclear or mixed inflammatory BAL fluid.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that although thoracic radiography, cytologic evaluation of BAL fluid, and histologic evaluation of lung specimens are complementary, each method has limitations in regard to how well results reflect the underlying disease process in dogs with respiratory tract disease. Lung biopsy should be considered in cases where results of radiography and cytology are nondiagnostic. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218: 1456–1461)

Abstract

Objective—To compare results of thoracic radiography, cytologic evaluation of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, and histologic evaluation of biopsy and necropsy specimens in dogs with respiratory tract disease and to determine whether histologic evaluation provides important diagnostic information not attainable by the other methods.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—16 dogs.

Procedure—BAL fluid was classified as normal, neutrophilic, eosinophilic, mononuclear, mixed, neoplastic, or nondiagnostic. Radiographic abnormalities were classified as interstitial, bronchial, bronchointerstitial, or alveolar. Histologic lesions were classified as inflammatory, fibrotic, or neoplastic, and the predominant site of histologic lesions was classified as the alveoli, interstitium, or airway.

Results—The predominant radiographic location of lesions correlated with the histologic location in 8 dogs. Of 11 dogs with histologic evidence of inflammatory disease, 8 had inflammatory BAL fluid. Of the 2 dogs with histologic evidence of neoplasia, 1 had BAL fluid suggestive of neoplasia, and the other had BAL fluid consistent with septic purulent inflammation. Two dogs without any histologic abnormalities had mononuclear or nondiagnostic BAL fluid. Two dogs with histologic evidence of fibrosis had mononuclear or mixed inflammatory BAL fluid.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that although thoracic radiography, cytologic evaluation of BAL fluid, and histologic evaluation of lung specimens are complementary, each method has limitations in regard to how well results reflect the underlying disease process in dogs with respiratory tract disease. Lung biopsy should be considered in cases where results of radiography and cytology are nondiagnostic. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218: 1456–1461)