THE MERCK VETERINARY MANUAL
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Canine Cholangiohepatitis

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Cholangiohepatitis in dogs is rare and is usually associated with suppurative inflammation and ascending biliary tree infection (Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, coccidiosis). Canine cholangiohepatitis is most commonly associated with biliary mucocele formation, cholelithiasis, and surgical manipulations of the biliary tree. Clinical signs include anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, PU/PD, fever, and abdominal pain.

Laboratory abnormalities are consistent with hepatic cholestasis and include hyperbilirubinemia and increased activities of AP, GGT, and transaminases. Ultrasonography may or may not reveal abnormalities involving the biliary tree or gallbladder. In some cases, a coarse hepatic echogenicity is identified. Ultrasonographic findings may indicate need for emergency surgical intervention (eg, mature gallbladder mucocele, cholelithiasis associated with EHBDO). Aspirates or impression smears of liver or bile may reveal suppurative septic inflammation. Samples collected from liver, bile, and sections of the biliary tree should be submitted for aerobic and anaerobic culture and sensitivity if suppurative inflammation is suspected. Antibiotic treatment should be based on cultured organisms, and other treatments should target underlying disease processes.

Last full review/revision March 2012 by Sharon A. Center, DVM, DACVIM

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