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Clin Tech Small Anim Pract. 2007 Aug;22(3):115-21.

Sonographic evaluation of the normal and abnormal pancreas.

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  • 1Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, Knoxville, TN 37996-4544, USA.


Pancreatic disorders in dogs and cats are recognized with increasing frequency, and abdominal ultrasonography has assumed an important role in their diagnosis. The normal pancreas is a small, inconspicuous organ of comparable echogenicity to surrounding mesentery and may be difficult to identify. Therefore, knowledge of anatomic landmarks such as portal vein and contributing vessels, duodenum, and stomach is necessary to facilitate identification and examination. Pancreatic diseases and abnormalities frequently investigated by means of ultrasonography include pancreatitis, pseudocysts, abscesses, neoplastic lesions, and nodular hyperplasia. Disorders less commonly seen include exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, pancreatolithiasis, congenital anomalies, and pancreatic edema. Unfortunately, ultrasonographic findings in various pancreatic disorders overlap, and incidental findings or age-related changes may mimic pancreatic disease. On the other hand, pancreatic disorders may not cause changes in ultrasonographic appearance. Ultrasonographic findings, therefore, have to be judged in light of signalment, history, and laboratory data. Cytology or histopathology may be needed to establish a definite diagnosis. Despite these limitations, ultrasonography is useful in diagnosing pancreatic disease, guiding aspirates and biopsies, and monitoring response to treatment.

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