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Hemophagocytic syndrome in dogs: 24 cases (1996–2005)

Douglas J. Weiss DVM, PhD, DACVP1
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  • 1 Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN 55108.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the frequency, potential causes, and clinical and clinicopathologic features of hemophagocytic syndrome in dogs.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—24 client-owned dogs.

Procedures—Records for dogs in which diagnostic bone marrow specimens (including an aspiration smear and core biopsy material) were obtained from 1996 to 2005 were reviewed. Inclusion criteria were presence of bicytopenia or pancytopenia in the blood and > 2% hemophagocytic macrophages in the bone marrow aspirate.

Results—Of 617 bone marrow specimens evaluated, evidence of hemophagocytic syndrome was detected in 24 (3.9%). The Tibetan Terrier breed was overrepresented among dogs with hemophagocytic syndrome. Clinical signs associated with hemophagocytic syndrome included fever, icterus, splenomegaly, hepatomegaly, and diarrhea. Hemophagocytic syndrome was associated with immune-mediated, infectious, and neoplastic-myelodysplastic conditions and also occurred as an idiopathic condition. Overall, dogs with infection-associated hemophagocytic syndrome had better 1-month survival rates than dogs with immune-associated and idiopathic hemophagocytic syndrome.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that hemophagocytic syndrome may occur more frequently in dogs than has previously been suspected on the basis of the paucity of reported cases. Although most dogs had definable underlying disease conditions, idiopathic hemophagocytic syndrome was also identified. Hemophagocytic syndrome of any cause is potentially life-threatening; however, the prognosis should be adjusted on the basis of the associated disease process and potential for successful treatment.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the frequency, potential causes, and clinical and clinicopathologic features of hemophagocytic syndrome in dogs.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—24 client-owned dogs.

Procedures—Records for dogs in which diagnostic bone marrow specimens (including an aspiration smear and core biopsy material) were obtained from 1996 to 2005 were reviewed. Inclusion criteria were presence of bicytopenia or pancytopenia in the blood and > 2% hemophagocytic macrophages in the bone marrow aspirate.

Results—Of 617 bone marrow specimens evaluated, evidence of hemophagocytic syndrome was detected in 24 (3.9%). The Tibetan Terrier breed was overrepresented among dogs with hemophagocytic syndrome. Clinical signs associated with hemophagocytic syndrome included fever, icterus, splenomegaly, hepatomegaly, and diarrhea. Hemophagocytic syndrome was associated with immune-mediated, infectious, and neoplastic-myelodysplastic conditions and also occurred as an idiopathic condition. Overall, dogs with infection-associated hemophagocytic syndrome had better 1-month survival rates than dogs with immune-associated and idiopathic hemophagocytic syndrome.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that hemophagocytic syndrome may occur more frequently in dogs than has previously been suspected on the basis of the paucity of reported cases. Although most dogs had definable underlying disease conditions, idiopathic hemophagocytic syndrome was also identified. Hemophagocytic syndrome of any cause is potentially life-threatening; however, the prognosis should be adjusted on the basis of the associated disease process and potential for successful treatment.