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Diseases of the Gallbladder and Extrahepatic Biliary System in Small Animals

By Sharon A. Center, BS, DVM, DACVIM, Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University

Jaundice is often the primary presenting sign in animals with disorders involving the gallbladder or extrahepatic biliary structures; abdominal effusion may reflect bile peritonitis. Finding a higher bilirubin concentration in an effusion relative to serum (>10-fold difference) confirms leakage of bile into the abdominal cavity and constitutes a surgical emergency.