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Acute Pancreatitis in the Cat

Internal Medicine

|April 2008|Peer Reviewed

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Signs of acute pancreatitis in the cat include anorexia, depression, lethargy, and abdominal discomfort. Vomiting in cats is notably less common than in dogs. Diagnosis is made with a combination of history, physical examination, abdominal imaging (ie, ultrasound), and clinical pathology. Laboratory findings include leukocytosis with or without left shift, azotemia, various serum electrolyte abnormalities, and abnormal liver tests, which often show an increase in total bilirubin concentration (mimicking primary cholestatic liver disease). Specific feline pancreatic lipase level tests have added significantly to the diagnostic acumen. Exploratory surgery should be avoided unless there is ultrasound evidence of an abscess that requires drainage (rare).

Clinician's Brief

The figures depict 2 cases of acute pancreatitis with similar surgical pathology-pancreatic swelling, pale white calcium soap formation on the peripancreatic surfaces, peritonitis, and adhesions involving the small bowel. Upon recognition of acute pancreatitis, the abdomen should be lavaged, areas of suppuration debrided, and a jejunostomy tube placed. Intensive fluid and electrolyte therapy and nutritional support via the jejunostomy tube are key management strategies. Prognosis is initially guarded.

For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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