Comparison Between Malignant and Nonmalignant Splenic Masses in Dogs using Contrast-Enhanced Computed Tomography


  • Supported by grants from the American College of Veterinary Radiology and The Ohio State University Canine Research Grant.

  • Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Veterinary Radiology, December 4–7, 2003.

  • Presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Valerie F. Samii, DVM, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, 601 Vernon L. Tharp Street, Columbus, OH 43210.


The ability of computed tomography (CT) to distinguish malignant from nonmalignant splenic masses was evaluated in 21 dogs with 24 masses. CT scans of the abdomen were performed pre- and postintravenous contrast medium administration before splenectomy or euthanasia. Splenic masses were evaluated objectively based on Hounsfield units (HU) and volume. Subjective criteria included location within the spleen (head, body, or tail), margination, homogeneity, and attenuation compared to the remaining splenic parenchyma. Characteristics of malignant and nonmalignant masses were compared. The nonmalignant masses were divided into splenic hematomas and nodular hyperplasia for further analysis. Fourteen (58.3%) of the masses were nonmalignant; 10 (41.7%) were malignant. Malignant splenic masses had significantly lower attenuation values, measured in HU, than nonmalignant splenic masses, on both pre- and postcontrast images (P<0.05). On postcontrast images, there was a significant difference in attenuation characteristics among all three subsets of splenic masses (malignant, hematoma, hyperplasia), with nodular hyperplasia having the highest HU values (90.3), hematomas having intermediate HU values (62.5), and malignant splenic masses having the lowest HU values (40.1). A receiver operator characteristic curve of postcontrast medium HU values revealed 55 as the best threshold value to distinguish malignant from nonmalignant masses, with those less than the threshold value being malignant. Abdominal CT is a useful diagnostic imaging modality for evaluation of focal canine splenic masses, with a significant difference in imaging characteristics between malignant and nonmalignant masses.