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Insulinoma in Dogs

By: Dr. Arnold Plotnick

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Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests and subsequent treatment recommendations.

Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize insulinoma and exclude other diseases. Tests may include:

  • History and physical exam. Your veterinarian will take a complete medical history and perform a thorough physical examination and will carefully examine the abdomen to test for abdominal pain and abdominal masses. Insulinomas are typically very small and cannot be palpated.

  • A complete blood count (CBC or hemogram) to evaluate for infection, inflammation, anemia, and low platelet count

  • A serum biochemical profile to identify hypoglycemia, evaluate the general health of your dog and determine the possible effects of insulinoma on other body systems

  • Urinalysis to evaluate your dog's kidney function and check for urinary tract infection

  • Concurrent evaluation of serum insulin and blood glucose concentrations. The single most reliable test for the diagnosis of insulinoma is the finding of an inappropriately high serum insulin concentration in an animal with hypoglycemia. The animal may be fasted until blood glucose concentration decreases to below 70 milligrams per deciliter of blood. At that time, a blood sample is sent to the laboratory for measurement of serum insulin concentration.

  • Abdominal ultrasound examination to identify masses within the pancreas. Insulinomas are typically very small and only a small percentage of them can be identified during ultrasound examination. Other organs and abdominal lymph nodes can be assessed to see if the insulinoma has spread beyond the pancreas. The ultrasound examination should be performed by someone experienced in ultrasonography, and referral to a specialty center is often necessary.

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