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Keywords:

  • agitated saline;
  • dog;
  • portosystemic shunt;
  • spleen;
  • ultrasound

We describe the use of ultrasonography-guided percutaneous splenic injection of agitated saline and heparinized blood for the diagnosis of portosystemic shunts (PSS) in 34 dogs. Agitated saline mixed with 1 ml of heparinized autologous blood was injected into the spleen of 34 sedated dogs under sonographic guidance. The transducer was then sequentially repositioned to visualize the portal vein, the caudal vena cava, and the right atrium through different acoustic windows. It was possible to differentiate between intrahepatic and extrahepatic shunts depending on the entry point of the microbubbles into the caudal vena cava. Portoazygos shunts and portocaval shunts could be differentiated based on the presence of microbubbles in the caudal vena cava and/or the right atrium. In one dog, collateral circulation due to portal hypertension was identified. In dogs with a single extrahepatic shunt, the microbubbles helped identify the shunting vessel. The technique was also used postoperatively to assess the efficacy of shunt closure. All abnormal vessels were confirmed by exploratory laparotomy or with ultrasonographic identification of the shunting vessel. Ultrasound-guided transsplenic injection of agitated saline with heparinized blood should be considered as a valuable technique for the diagnosis of PSS; it is easy to perform, safe, and the results are easily reproducible.