Hepatic abscesses in dogs: 14 cases (1982-1994)

Elizabeth T. Farrar, Robert J. Washabau, H. Mark Saunders

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61 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine typical clinical signs and clinicopathologic findings in dogs with hepatic abscesses, to assess outcome of treatment, and to evaluate the role that abdominal ultrasonography has in the diagnosis of hepatic abscesses in dogs and in monitoring response to treatment. Design: Retrospective case series. Animals: 14 dogs with hepatic abscesses. Results: Anorexia and lethargy were the most common historical complaints, followed by vomiting and diarrhea. Physical abnormalities included fever, dehydration, signs of abdominal pain, hepatomegaly, and mucosal bleeding. Hematologic abnormalities included leukocytosis with neutrophilia, mild to moderate thrombocytopenia, and mild anemia. Serum biochemical abnormalities included high alkaline phosphatase and alanine aminotransferase activities and high bilirubin concentration; hypoalbuminemia and prolonged coagulation values were also reported. Abdominal radiography revealed hepatomegaly, poor abdominal detail, a hepatic mass, or splenomegaly in 9 dogs. Thoracic radiography revealed alveolar consolidation or mixed bronchial/interstitial pulmonary patterns in 6 dogs. Hypoechoic, heteroechoic, or hyperechoic masses were identified in all dogs in which ultrasonography was performed. Escherichia coli, Clostridium sp, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterococcus sp, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and S intermedius were the most common bacteria isolated from hepatic abscesses. Concurrent infections were identified in the biliary tract, spleen, blood, endocardium, lung, prostate gland, peritoneum, lymph nodes, salivary gland, or brain of several dogs. Seven dogs died or were euthanatized before definitive treatment could be initiated. One dog was successfully treated with antibiotics and was alive 12 months after medical treatment. Six dogs were treated surgically (ie, full or partial liver lobectomy, drainage, abdominal lavage) and medically (ie, antibiotic administration). Five of these dogs survived and were alive 12 months after surgery. Ultrasonography was used to monitor response to treatment in several dogs. Clinical Implications: Hepatic abscesses are rare in dogs, but the clinical signs and clinicopathologic findings are similar to other inflammatory hepatic diseases. Ultrasonography revealed abnormalities in all animals in which imaging studies were performed, and was successfully used to monitor response to treatment in several dogs. Medical and surgical treatments were used successfully to treat hepatic abscesses in dogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-247
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 1996


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