A 5-year-old spayed female domestic shorthair cat was evaluated because of an acute onset of dyspnea and open-mouthed breathing.
Thoracic radiography revealed pleural effusion and signs consistent with restrictive pleuritis, and results of preoperative CT were consistent with diffuse, severe restrictive pleuritis, bilateral pleural effusion, and pulmonary atelectasis. Thoracocentesis yielded a red, turbid fluid that was identified as chylous effusion with chronic inflammation.
TREATMENT AND OUTCOME
Exploratory thoracotomy revealed diffuse, severe fibrous adhesions between the mediastinum, heart, lung lobes, and thoracic wall, with a thick fibrous capsule enveloping all lung lobes. Surgical treatment consisted of complete pleural decortication, pericardiectomy, and thoracic omentalization. The cat remained hospitalized for 6 days, receiving oxygen supplementation, multimodal analgesia, and supportive care. Long-term home care consisted of prednisolone administration, rutin supplementation, and provision of a low-fat diet. At recheck examinations 3-, 7-, and 20-weeks postoperatively, the cat remained tachypneic, but was otherwise clinically normal without dyspnea or respiratory distress. Follow-up thoracic radiography revealed improved pulmonary expansion, decreased pleural effusion, and resolved pneumothorax.
Surgical management of fibrosing pleuritis secondary to idiopathic chylothorax in cats has historically resulted in poor outcomes. This report details the first successful use of complete decortication in the surgical management of severe fibrosing pleuritis in a cat.
CASE DESCRIPTION A 13-year-old neutered male Abyssinian cat with a 4-month history of right forelimb edema and multifocal crusting lesions at the distal aspect of the antebrachium was referred to a veterinary teaching hospital for evaluation. Extensive hemorrhage from the lesions had been observed after self-grooming, and findings on histologic examination of a skin biopsy sample prior to referral were consistent with atypical dermal hemodynamics and inflammation.
CLINICAL FINDINGS Diffuse pitting edema and multifocal, 3- to 4-mm-diameter sanguineous crusting lesions affecting the antebrachium were observed distal to a pulsatile subcutaneous mass in the right elbow joint region that had a palpable thrill and auscultable bruit. No systemic abnormalities were detected.
TREATMENT AND OUTCOME Contrast-enhanced CT angiography with 3-D reconstruction identified an arteriovenous fistula with a large aberrant vessel coursing distally. Surgical ligation of an arterialized vein distal to the fistula without en bloc resection led to resolution of all clinical signs. The vascular anomaly was no longer patent when diagnostic imaging was repeated 5 months after surgery.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE Acquired arteriovenous fistulas can lead to bleeding skin lesions affecting the antebrachium in cats. Surgical ligation of an aberrant reverse-shunting vein distal to the fistula successfully resolved clinical signs in the cat of this report and may warrant investigation as a treatment option in cats with this condition.