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Prevalence and underlying causes of histologic abnormalities in cats suspected to have chronic small bowel disease: 300 cases (2008–2013)

Gary D. Norsworthy DVM1, J. Scot Estep DVM2, Charlotte Hollinger VMD, MS3, Jörg M. Steiner Med Vet, Dr med vet, PhD4, Jennifer Olson Lavallee DVM5, Loren N. Gassler DVM6, Lisa M. Restine DVM7, and Matti Kiupel Dr med vet habil, PhD8
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  • 1 Alamo Feline Health Center, 16201 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, TX 78232.
  • | 2 Texas Veterinary Pathology, 1007 Wagon Wheel Dr, Spring Branch, TX 78070.
  • | 3 Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48910.
  • | 4 Gastrointestinal Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.
  • | 5 Alamo Feline Health Center, 16201 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, TX 78232.
  • | 6 Alamo Feline Health Center, 16201 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, TX 78232.
  • | 7 Alamo Feline Health Center, 16201 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, TX 78232.
  • | 8 Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48910.

Abstract

Objective—To determine prevalence of histologic abnormalities in cats suspected, on the basis of compatible clinical signs and ultrasonographic findings, to have chronic small bowel disease; identify the most common underlying causes in affected cats; and compare methods for differentiating among the various causes of chronic small bowel disease.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—300 client-owned domestic cats suspected to have chronic small bowel disease.

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed to identify cats evaluated because of chronic vomiting, chronic small bowel diarrhea, or weight loss that also had ultrasonographic evidence of thickening of the small intestine. Cats were included in the study if full-thickness biopsy specimens had been obtained from ≥ 3 locations of the small intestine by means of laparotomy and biopsy specimens had been examined by means of histologic evaluation and, when necessary to obtain a diagnosis, immunohistochemical analysis and a PCR assay for antigen receptor rearrangement.

Results—Chronic small bowel disease was diagnosed in 288 of the 300 (96%) cats. The most common diagnoses were chronic enteritis (n = 150) and intestinal lymphoma (124).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that a high percentage of cats with clinical signs of chronic small bowel disease and ultrasonographic evidence of thickening of the small intestine had histologic abnormalities. Furthermore, full-thickness biopsy specimens were useful in differentiating between intestinal lymphoma and chronic enteritis, but such differentiation was not possible with ultrasonography or clinicopathologic testing alone.

Abstract

Objective—To determine prevalence of histologic abnormalities in cats suspected, on the basis of compatible clinical signs and ultrasonographic findings, to have chronic small bowel disease; identify the most common underlying causes in affected cats; and compare methods for differentiating among the various causes of chronic small bowel disease.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—300 client-owned domestic cats suspected to have chronic small bowel disease.

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed to identify cats evaluated because of chronic vomiting, chronic small bowel diarrhea, or weight loss that also had ultrasonographic evidence of thickening of the small intestine. Cats were included in the study if full-thickness biopsy specimens had been obtained from ≥ 3 locations of the small intestine by means of laparotomy and biopsy specimens had been examined by means of histologic evaluation and, when necessary to obtain a diagnosis, immunohistochemical analysis and a PCR assay for antigen receptor rearrangement.

Results—Chronic small bowel disease was diagnosed in 288 of the 300 (96%) cats. The most common diagnoses were chronic enteritis (n = 150) and intestinal lymphoma (124).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that a high percentage of cats with clinical signs of chronic small bowel disease and ultrasonographic evidence of thickening of the small intestine had histologic abnormalities. Furthermore, full-thickness biopsy specimens were useful in differentiating between intestinal lymphoma and chronic enteritis, but such differentiation was not possible with ultrasonography or clinicopathologic testing alone.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Lavalle's present address is Cat Specialist, 612 Atchison Way, Castle Rock, CO 80109.

Most expenses for cats included in the study were paid by the owners; however, some specialized laboratory testing was paid for by Alamo Feline Health Center and the Gastrointestinal Laboratory at Texas A&M University, for which Dr. Steiner is the Director.

The authors declare that there were no conflicts of interest.

The authors thank Aimee Duffy for data retrieval and assimilation.

Address correspondence to Dr. Norsworthy (tenlivesforcats@yahoo.com).