Clinical, clinicopathologic, radiographic, and ultrasonographic characteristics of intestinal lymphangiectasia in dogs: 17 cases (1996–1998)

Patricia A. Kull Departments of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6010.
Present address is Veterinary Internal Medicine and Allergy Specialists, 207 E 84th St, New York, NY 10028.

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Rebecka S. Hess Departments of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6010.

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Linden E. Craig Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6010.
Present address is the Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37901-1071.

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H. Mark Saunders Departments of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6010.

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Robert J. Washabau Departments of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6010.

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Abstract

Objective—To characterize the clinical, clinicopathologic, and imaging findings in dogs with intestinal lymphangiectasia and to compare the histologic grade of lymphangiectasia with clinicopathologic and imaging abnormalities.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—17 dogs with a histologic diagnosis of intestinal lymphangiectasia.

Procedure—Medical records of dogs with a histologic diagnosis of intestinal lymphangiectasia were reviewed for signalment, history, clinical signs, results of exploratory laparotomy, and clinicopathologic, radiographic, ultrasonographic, and histologic findings.

Results—Mean age of dogs was 8.3 years; the most common clinical signs were diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, and weight loss. Abnormal physical examination findings included dehydration, ascites, and signs of pain on palpation of the abdomen. The most notable clinicopathologic findings were low serum ionized calcium concentration and hypoalbuminemia. Abdominal ultrasonography was performed in 12 dogs and revealed intestinal abnormalities in 8 dogs and peritoneal effusion in 7 dogs. Exploratory laparotomy revealed abnormalities in 9 of 16 dogs including thickened small intestine, dilated lacteals, lymphadenopathy, and adhesions. On histologic examination of the small intestine, concurrent inflammation was observed in 15 of 17 dogs, crypt ectasia in 5 of 17, and lipogranulomas in 2 of 17.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Intestinal lymphangiectasia in dogs appears to be a heterogeneous disorder characterized by various degrees of panhypoproteinemia, hypocholesterolemia, lymphocytopenia, and imaging abnormalities. In most dogs, the severity of hypoalbuminemia appears to offer the best correlation with severity of histologic lesions of lymphangiectasia. Imaging abnormalities are common in dogs with intestinal lymphangiectasia but are not specific enough to differentiate this disorder from other gastrointestinal disorders, nor are they predictive of histologic severity. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:197–202)

Abstract

Objective—To characterize the clinical, clinicopathologic, and imaging findings in dogs with intestinal lymphangiectasia and to compare the histologic grade of lymphangiectasia with clinicopathologic and imaging abnormalities.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—17 dogs with a histologic diagnosis of intestinal lymphangiectasia.

Procedure—Medical records of dogs with a histologic diagnosis of intestinal lymphangiectasia were reviewed for signalment, history, clinical signs, results of exploratory laparotomy, and clinicopathologic, radiographic, ultrasonographic, and histologic findings.

Results—Mean age of dogs was 8.3 years; the most common clinical signs were diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, and weight loss. Abnormal physical examination findings included dehydration, ascites, and signs of pain on palpation of the abdomen. The most notable clinicopathologic findings were low serum ionized calcium concentration and hypoalbuminemia. Abdominal ultrasonography was performed in 12 dogs and revealed intestinal abnormalities in 8 dogs and peritoneal effusion in 7 dogs. Exploratory laparotomy revealed abnormalities in 9 of 16 dogs including thickened small intestine, dilated lacteals, lymphadenopathy, and adhesions. On histologic examination of the small intestine, concurrent inflammation was observed in 15 of 17 dogs, crypt ectasia in 5 of 17, and lipogranulomas in 2 of 17.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Intestinal lymphangiectasia in dogs appears to be a heterogeneous disorder characterized by various degrees of panhypoproteinemia, hypocholesterolemia, lymphocytopenia, and imaging abnormalities. In most dogs, the severity of hypoalbuminemia appears to offer the best correlation with severity of histologic lesions of lymphangiectasia. Imaging abnormalities are common in dogs with intestinal lymphangiectasia but are not specific enough to differentiate this disorder from other gastrointestinal disorders, nor are they predictive of histologic severity. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:197–202)

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