• Fibrosis;
  • Nodular regeneration;
  • Ultrasound


Ultrasound examination is commonly used in the diagnostic evaluation of liver disease in dogs.


To determine if hepatic sonographic features were predictive of findings on liver histopathology. We hypothesized that there would be a relationship between sonographic features and the category of liver disease based on histologic assessment.


One hundred and thirty-eight dogs in which the liver was evaluated by both abdominal ultrasound examination and histopathologic examination. Twenty-five dogs were included in each of the following categories based on histopathology: normal, degenerative, vascular, inflammatory, and neoplasia. Thirteen dogs had nodular regeneration.


Retrospective study. Medical records of dogs from 2005 to 2010 were searched for cases in which the liver was evaluated by abdominal ultrasound examination as well as by histopathology. After independent evaluation of ultrasound images, the recorded sonographic features were analyzed to identify abnormalities associated with each histopathologic diagnosis or degree of fibrosis.


Sixty-four percent of sonographically unremarkable livers had histologic abnormalities. Both microhepatia and the identification of abnormal vasculature were significantly associated with a histopathologic diagnosis of vascular disease. Hepatic masses were significantly associated with a diagnosis of neoplasia. Dilated common bile duct and thickened gall bladder wall were significantly associated with hepatitis. There were no sonographic findings consistently present with hepatic fibrosis.

Conclusion and Clinical Importance

Although some ultrasonographic findings, including masses, microhepatia, anomalous veins, and biliary changes, are associated with specific histopathologic abnormalities, sonographic findings are inconsistently detected in many disorders. Overall, hepatic ultrasonographic abnormalities have substantial limitations in predicting the underlying disease.