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Pancreatic Exocrine Neoplasia in Cats

By: Dr. Nicholas Trout

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The clinical signs for exocrine pancreatic neoplasia are the same as for many other diseases, some of which carry a much more favorable prognosis.

  • Abdominal pain could derive from an array of potentially life threatening disorders such as a septic peritonitis, which is a bacterial infection of the lining of the abdomen, arising from a perforated loop of bowel, a ruptured gall bladder or an abscess on the spleen, liver, pancreas, prostate or kidney. X-rays and ultrasound are helpful in recognizing these disorders.

  • Non-infectious causes of abdominal pain, which may be accompanied by abdominal distension, include acute or chronic pancreatitis, gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), mesenteric volvulus, interssusception or other form of intestinal obstruction. Plain X-rays may be the only diagnostic tool necessary to define the gastrointestinal disorders. Pancreatitis can be appreciated by ultrasound in the hands of a skilled ultrasonographer.

  • Disorders of the spine, such as a herniated intervertebral disk or an infection involving the disk known as diskospondylitis, can mimic pancreatic disease by creating abdominal guarding or splinting with a sense of pain on abdominal palpation. Careful physical examination and lack of finding on abdominal X-rays or ultrasound would steer your vet toward a spinal problem.

  • Urinary tract disorders such as inflammation of the bladder (cystitis) or urethral obstruction can create abdominal pain that can be misinterpreted as a pancreatic problem. These urogenital abnormalities would become apparent during the work-up of the case.

  • Vomiting and anorexia are seen in cases of pancreatic exocrine neoplasia and are clinical signs for a huge list of common non-pancreatic disorders such as dietary indiscretion and viral, bacterial or parasitic gastroenteritis. The signs demonstrated by your cat and dog will be pieced together with your pet's signalment and history. Not every vomiting cat or dog is going to require a long list of diagnostic tests.

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