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Keywords:

  • Abdominal ultrasound;
  • Pancreatitis;
  • Serum feline pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity

Background

Pancreatitis is a common disease in cats that is difficult to diagnose.

Hypothesis/Objectives

To determine the sensitivity and specificity of ultrasonographic changes of the pancreas with serum feline pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity (fPLI) as the standard for diagnosis of pancreatitis.

Animals

35 cats with clinical signs consistent with pancreatitis with an abdominal ultrasound examination and serum fPLI concentration measured within 3 days of the ultrasound.

Methods

Retrospective study: Pancreatic thickness, pancreatic margination, pancreatic echogenicity, and peripancreatic fat echogenicity were evaluated. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated with an elevated serum fPLI concentration indicative of pancreatitis as the standard for diagnosis.

Results

Serum fPLI was elevated and diagnostic for pancreatitis in 19 of 35 cats. The single ultrasound characteristic with the highest sensitivity was hyperechoic peripancreatic fat at 68% (95% confidence interval = 44–87%), indicating a moderate probability that cats with pancreatitis will have this abnormality on ultrasonographic examination. Specificity was >90% for each of increased pancreatic thickness, abnormal pancreatic margin, and hyperechoic peripancreatic fat. The sensitivity and specificity of ultrasound were 84% (95% confidence interval = 60–97%) and 75% (95% confidence interval = 48–93%), respectively, in cats with elevated serum fPLI indicative of pancreatitis.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

The presence of a thick left limb of the pancreas, severely irregular pancreatic margins, and hyperechoic peripancreatic fat in cats with appropriate clinical signs and elevated serum fPLI are highly supportive of pancreatitis.