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Vet Radiol Ultrasound. 2013 May-Jun;54(3):283-92. doi: 10.1111/vru.12018. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

Contrast-enhanced ultrasonographic characteristics of adrenal glands in dogs with pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism.

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Tyrus Clinica Veterinaria, Via del Lanificio, 9A, 05100 Terni, Italy.


A noninvasive method for quantifying adrenal gland vascular patterns could be helpful for improving detection of adrenal gland disease in dogs. The purpose of this retrospective study was to compare the contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) characteristics of adrenal glands in 18 dogs with pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism (PDH) vs. four clinically healthy dogs. Each dog received a bolus of the contrast agent (SonoVue®, 0.03 ml/kg of body weight) into the cephalic vein, immediately followed by a 5 ml saline flush. Dynamic contrast enhancement was analyzed using time-intensity curves in two regions of interest drawn manually in the caudal part of the adrenal cortex and medulla, respectively. In healthy dogs, contrast enhancement distribution was homogeneous and exhibited increased intensity from the medulla to the cortex. In the washout phase, there was a gradual and homogeneous decrease of enhancement of the adrenal gland. For all dogs with PDH, there was rapid, chaotic, and simultaneous contrast enhancement in both the medulla and cortex. Three distinct perfusion patterns were observed. Peak perfusion intensity was approximately twice as high (P < 0.05) in dogs with PDH compared with that of healthy dogs (28.90 ± 10.36 vs. 48.47 ± 15.28, respectively). In dogs with PDH, adrenal blood flow and blood volume values were approximately two- to fourfold (P < 0.05) greater than those of controls. Findings from the present study support the use of CEUS as a clinical tool for characterizing canine adrenal gland disease based on changes in vascular patterns.

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