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  • Author or Editor: Elaine R. Caplan x
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To evaluate clinical, laboratory, radiographic, ultrasonographic, surgical, and histologic findings in ferrets with insulinoma and to determine their long-term outcome.


Retrospective study.


57 ferrets with a histopathologic diagnosis of pancreatic islet cell tumor.


Medical records of ferrets with pancreatic islet cell tumors were reviewed.


Lethargy, weakness, and collapse were the most common clinical signs. All ferrets had hypoglycemia, and hyperinsulinemia was documented in 39 of 47 (83%) ferrets. Ultrasonographic examination of the abdomen revealed pancreatic nodules in 5 of 23 ferrets. Surgical treatment was performed in 50 ferrets, 3 were treated by medical management alone, and 4 did not have treatment. At the time of surgery, 1 pancreatic nodule was found in 13 (26%) ferrets and multiple nodules were found in 37 (74%) ferrets. Pancreatic carcinoma alone was found in 34 ferrets, whereas a combination of carcinoma and either hyperplasia or adenoma was found in 23 ferrets; 4 ferrets had metastasis to regional lymph nodes or liver. In 26 (53%) ferrets, hypoglycemia persisted after surgery, necessitating medical treatment with prednisone, diazoxide, or both. Sixteen (33%) ferrets had redevelopment of hypoglycemia at 1 to 23.5 months (median, 10.6 months) after surgery. Only 7 of the 50 (14%) ferrets remained euglycemic after surgery.

Clinical Implications—

In ferrets, surgical removal of insulin-secreting pancreatic islet cell tumors is recommended as definitive treatment; however, multiple pancreatic nodules are common, making complete excision of all tumor tissue difficult. Persistent hypoglycemia after surgical treatment indicates that lifelong medical management with prednisone or diazoxide or both may be necessary in many ferrets. Finally, because the insulin-secreting tumors are malignant, long-term cure and survival are not likely. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996;209:1741–1745)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association