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Objective—To determine the outcome of and prognostic indicators for dogs and cats with pneumoperitoneum and no history of penetrating trauma.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—43 dogs and 11 cats.

Procedure—Medical records of dogs and cats with radiographic evidence of pneumoperitoneum and no history of penetrating trauma were reviewed. Information collected included signalment, previous medical problems, initial complaint, duration of illness, physical examination findings, radiographic findings, laboratory abnormalities, abdominocentesis results, bacterial culture results, concurrent diseases, hospitalization time, and outcome. Abdominal radiographs were reviewed, and radiographic severity of pneumoperitoneum was classified. For those animals that underwent exploratory laparotomy, time from admission to surgery and results of histologic examination of biopsy specimens were recorded.

Results—24 (44%) animals survived and were discharged from the hospital, but none of the variables examined was associated with whether animals survived. Rupture of the gastrointestinal tract was the cause of pneumoperitoneum in 40 animals. However, cause and location of gastrointestinal tract rupture was not associated with whether animals survived. Twenty-three of 40 (58%) animals that underwent exploratory laparotomy survived, compared with only 1 of 14 animals that did not undergo surgery.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that pneumoperitoneum in dogs and cats without any history of penetrating trauma is most commonly associated with rupture of the gastrointestinal tract and requires immediate surgical intervention. Even when appropriate treatment is instituted, the shortterm prognosis is only fair. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:251–255)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association