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Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex in Cats

By: Dr. Mark Thompson

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Diagnostic tests may be performed to identify underlying diseases, especially certain types of skin cancer) that may be confused with eosinophilic granuloma complex. Your veterinarian may recommend the following:

  • History and physical. The lesions of eosinophilic granuloma complex usually are identified based on their characteristic appearance. Your veterinarian will take a thorough medical history and perform a complete physical examination. The history will be directed toward identification of potential allergens that may have resulted in eosinophilic granuloma complex. Careful grooming of the hair coat with a flea comb may be performed to identify fleas. During this procedure, a fine-toothed comb is passed through the cat's hair coat. The space between the teeth of the comb is small enough so that fleas are trapped and removed from the hair. The presence of broken or "barbered" hairs indicate that the cat is repeatedly licking the affected area and indicates that the problem is itchy.

  • Skin biopsy. Biopsy of eosinophilic granulomas and eosinophilic plaques show dermatitis with many eosinophils in the lesion. Eosinophils are a type of inflammatory cell that accumulate in lesions caused by allergens or parasites. Biopsy is less helpful in cats with indolent ulcers because eosinophils are often absent by the time the lesion is clinically apparent. Biopsy is most valuable to rule out other causes of similar lesions especially bacterial and fungal infections and certain types of skin cancer including mast cell tumor, cutaneous lymphosarcoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

  • Culture. Bacterial or fungal culture of lesions may be performed to identify bacterial or fungal infection.

  • A complete blood count (CBC). This test often shows increased numbers of circulating eosinophils in cats with eosinophilic plaques, sometimes in cats with eosinophilic granulomas, and rarely in those with indolent ulcers.

  • Strict flea control. Flea control should be maintained on the animal and in his environment to rule out flea allergy as the underlying cause of eosinophilic granuloma complex. Although the lesions may not resolve completely with flea treatment alone, lesions would not be expected to recur after successful treatment if fleas have been simultaneously eradicated.

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