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Keywords:

  • portosystemic shunt;
  • ultrasonography;
  • Doppler studies;
  • dog

The aims of this study were to determine if accurate diagnosis of congenital portosystemic shunt was possible using two dimensional, grey-scale ultrasonography, duplex-Doppler, and color-flow Doppler ultrasonography in combination, and to determine if dogs with congenital portosystemic shunts have increased or variable mean portal blood flow velocity. Eighty-two dogs with clinical and/or clinicopathologic signs compatible with portosystemic shunting were examined prospectively. Diagnosis of congenital portosystemic shunt was subsequently confirmed in 38 of these dogs using operative mesenteric portography: 14(37%) dogs had an intrahepatic shunt and 24(63%) had an extrahepatic shunt. Ultrasonography had a sensitivity of 95%, specificity of 98%, and accuracy of 94%. Ultrasonographic signs in dogs with congenital portosystemic shunts included small liver, reduced visibility of intrahepatic portal vessels, and anomalous blood vessel draining into the caudal vena cava. Correct determination of intra - versus extrahepatic shunt was made ultrasonographically in 35/38 (92%) dogs. Increased and/or variable portal blood flow velocity was present in 21/30 (70%) dogs with congenital portosystemic shunts. In one dog with an intrahepatic shunt the ultrasonographic diagnosis was based partly on finding increased mean portal blood flow velocity because the shunting vessel was not visible. Detection of the shunting vessel and placement of duplex-Doppler sample volumes were facilitated by use of color-flow Doppler. Two-dimensional, grey-scale ultrasonography alone is sufficient to detect most intrahepatic and extrahepatic shunts; sensitivity is increased by additional use of duplex-Doppler and color-flow Doppler. Increased and/or variable portal blood flow velocity occurs in the majority of dogs with congenital portosystemic shunts.