• Portions of this study were presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging in Cascais, Portugal.


Differential diagnoses for regurgitation and vomiting in dogs include diseases of the gastroesophageal junction. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to describe ultrasonographic characteristics of the abdominal esophagus and gastric cardia in normal dogs and dogs with clinical disease involving this region. A total of 126 dogs with no clinical signs of gastrointestinal disease and six dogs with clinical diseases involving the gastroesophageal junction were included. For seven euthanized dogs, ultrasonographic features were also compared with gross pathology and histopathology. Cardial and abdominal esophageal wall thicknesses were measured ultrasonographically for all normal dogs and effects of weight, sex, age, and stomach filling were tested. Five layers could be identified in normal esophageal and cardial walls. The inner esophageal layer was echogenic, corresponding to the cornified mucosa and glandular portion of the submucosa. The cardia was characterized by a thick muscularis, and a transitional zone between echogenic esophageal and hypoechoic gastric mucosal layers. Mean (±SD) cardial wall thicknesses for normal dogs were 7.6 mm (±1.6), 9.7 mm (±1.8), 10.8 mm (±1.6), 13.3 mm (±2.5) for dogs in the <10 kg, 10–19.9 kg, 20–29.9 kg and ≥30 kg weight groups, respectively. Mean (±SD) esophageal wall thicknesses were: 4.1 mm (±0.6), 5.1 mm (±1.3), 5.6 mm (±1), and 6.4 mm (±1.1) for the same weight groups, respectively. Measurements of wall thickness were significantly correlated with dog weight group. Ultrasonography assisted diagnosis in all six clinically affected dogs. Findings supported the use of transabdominal ultrasonography as a diagnostic test for dogs with suspected gastroesophageal disease.