Objectives: To evaluate the clinical, clinical pathology, diagnostic imaging, microbiological and pathological features of cholangitis/cholangiohepatitis in the dog.
Methods: The study design was a retrospective review of cases of bacterial cholangitis/cholangiohepatitis presented to the University of Bristol during the period 1995 to 2000. The diagnosis was made based on hepatic histopathological findings and positive bile culture results.
Results: Four dogs met the inclusion criteria. Common presenting signs included anorexia (n=4), jaundice (n=4), vomiting (n=4) and pyrexia (n=2). All four dogs had a leucocytosis or neutrophilia reported at some time in their history along with serum bilirubin elevation. In addition, serum alkaline phosphatase and alanine transaminase activity was increased in all of the dogs in which it was measured both before and at the time of referral. In general, the diagnostic imaging findings were non-specific. Organisms cultured from bile aspirates were Escherichia coli (n=3), Clostridium species (n=2) and a faecal Streptococcus species (n=1). Two cases resolved with medical treatment alone; two with concurrent cholecystitis required cholecystectomy. Following surgery, both of these cases showed a resolution of clinical signs.
Clinical Significance: This report highlights the fact that bacterial cholangitis/cholangiohepatitis with or without concurrent cholecystitis should be considered as a potential differential in dogs presenting with signs referable to biliary tract disease.