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J Vet Intern Med. 2003 Jan-Feb;17(1):28-32.

Congenital dilatation of the bile ducts (Caroli's disease) in young dogs.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


We describe 8 young dogs with congenital dilatation of the intra- and extrahepatic bile ducts and diffuse cystic kidney disease, compatible with Caroli's disease in humans. The dogs were referred between 1980 and 2000 because of chronic disease at an age of 6 months to 3 years. These dogs included 3 Collies, 2 Frisian Stabyhouns, 2 Jack Russell Terriers, and 1 mixed-breed dog. The most common signs were vomiting (6/6), polyuria and polydipsia (4/6), and anorexia (4/6). Ascites was a common finding (4/6). Clinicopathologic abnormalities were available for 6 dogs. All had increased plasma alkaline phosphatase activity and fasting bile acids: increased alanine aminotransferase activity and urea and creatinine concentrations were present in 50% of dogs. Ultrasound examination of the liver showed severely dilated bile ducts without evidence of obstruction, and calcification in all cases but 1. Postmortem examination revealed severe dilatation of the larger intra- and extrahepatic bile ducts. The common bile duct and gall bladder were normal, and the bile system was patent. The ducts contained a clear viscid fluid often with calcified material. Microscopically, marked portal fibrosis was present, often with abnormally structured dilated bile ducts lined with columnar or cuboid epithelium and regularly small calcifications. The lesion was complicated by ascending cholangitis in 1 dog. The kidneys showed marked cortical and medullary fibrosis with a diffuse radial cystic pattern; only slight renal fibrosis was found in the oldest dog. Seven dogs were euthanized without treatment; the oldest dog was alive and well 5 months after diagnosis and was maintained on a protein-restricted diet.

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