Content continues after advertisement

Iris Nodule in a Cat

Alexandra van der Woerdt, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVO & ECVO, Animal Medical Center, New York, New York


|June 2007|Peer Reviewed

Sign in to Print/View PDF

A neutered male domestic shorthair cat, which was approximately 15 years old, was presented for evaluation of an iris nodule in the left eye.

History. The owner first noticed the abnormality 1 week before presentation. Anterior uveitis was diagnosed by the referring veterinarian. Blood was submitted for a CBC, biochemistry profile, serum T4 concentration and FeLV antigen (ELISA), FIV antibody, feline coronavirus (IFA), and Toxoplasma gondii IgG and IgM antibody titers. Urine was submitted for urinalysis. Treatment was started using oral amoxicillin/clavulanic acid and topical gentamicin ophthalmic solution. The cat was referred to the Animal Medical Center for evaluation when the mass seemed to enlarge despite therapy.

Ophthalmic Examination. Slit-lamp biomicroscopy and indirect ophthalmoscopy were used for the examination. No significant abnormalities were found in the right eye. The left eye had a weak menace response and a slow pupillary light reflex. Mild aqueous flare and a clot of fibrin with red blood cells were present in the anterior chamber. In the lateral part of the iris, a pink vascular mass protruded into the anterior chamber (Figure 1). Vitreal infiltrates precluded detailed examination of the fundus. The systolic blood pressure was measured using a noninvasive Doppler technique and was judged to be at the upper end of normal at 160 mm Hg.

Laboratory Analysis. Abnormalities revealed in the laboratory analysis are given in the Table. All submitted titers were negative; the T4 was within normal limits; and urinalysis was unremarkable with a urine specific gravity of 1.058.

Diagnostic Testing. Anterior chamber aspiration was determined to be the next diagnostic step. The cat was anesthetized with intravenous propofol and diazepam, intubated, and maintained on oxygen for the short duration of the procedure. Several drops of 0.5% proparacaine ophthalmic solution were applied a few minutes apart to the eye. One quarter of a milliliter of aqueous humor was slowly withdrawn from the anterior chamber by using a tuberculin syringe with a 25-gauge needle inserted at the limbus of the eye. The sample was submitted for cytologic evaluation. Figure 2 shows a centrifuged preparation of the aqueous humor sample.


• What is the most likely cytologic diagnosis?
• Which other differential diagnoses were you considering before the anterior chamber aspiration?

Diagnosis: Malignant round cell neoplasm-most consistent with atypical, extra­nodal lymphoproliferative disease

Cytology. The tissue cells consist of large, irregular round cells with a fine to slightly coarse nuclear chromatin pattern. Prominent, sometimes irregular and sometimes multiple, nucleoli are present (Figure 2). Most of the intact cells contain indented-to-ameboid-shaped nuclei with variably abundant light-staining cytoplasm. Some contain small, slightly basophilic to metachromatic spherical granules (Figure 3). Occasional bizarre mitotic figures are observed, and a few small lymphocytes are also seen.

The presence of these intracytoplasmic granules may be consistent with lymphoma of the large granular lymphocytic variety. This form of lymphoproliferative disease generally originates from the abdominal cavity.

Additional Diagnostics. Additional diagnostic tests, including chest and abdominal radiographs and abdominal ultrasonography, were recommended but declined by the owner.

Discussion. Ocular involvement in multicentric lymphoma is common in dogs and cats.1 In one study, ocular changes consistent with systemic lymphoma were present in 37% of dogs examined.1 Ocular lymphosarcoma can initially present as anterior uveitis in cats.2,3 Nonspecific lymphocytic-plasmacytic uveitis (diffuse or nodular) was the most common type of uveitis in a large retrospective histopathologic study of uveitis in cats .3Lymphosarcoma was also common, affecting 24% of globes in the study.

In a retrospective study evaluating histopathologic features of feline ocular lymphosarcoma, inflammation was present in 50% of eyes studied.2 Lymphosarcoma was nodular (as in the case presented here) in 70% of eyes and diffuse in 20% of eyes. Secondary complications, such as glaucoma or retinal detachment, are common.

The intracytoplasmic granules noted in the sample obtained from this cat are highly suggestive of lymphoma of the large granular lymphocytic variety, originating in the abdominal cavity.4
Low levels of serum albumin, which is present in this case, can be present in cats with intestinal lymphosarcoma. Treatment of ocular lymphosarcoma is best done by treatment of the lymphosarcoma elsewhere in the body.5 Ocular lymphosarcoma can respond dramatically to chemotherapy, and enucleation is generally not necessary.

Aqueocentesis with subsequent cytologic evaluation of a centrifuged preparation of aqueous humor enabled us to differentiate between chronic inflammatory changes and neoplastic disease.6 It also allowed us to determine whether the eye needed to be removed (which would be the case in neoplastic diseases other than lymphosarcoma) or whether the eye could be spared and treated with chemotherapeutic agents.

The author thanks Andrew Loar, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM, for his assistance with the manuscript.

IRIS NODULE IN A CAT • Alexandra van der Woerdt

1. Prevalence of ocular involvement in dogs with multicentric lymphoma: Prospective evaluation of 94 cases. Krohne SG, Henderson NM, Richardson RC and Vestre WA. Vet Comp Ophthalmol 4:127-135, 1994.
2. Histopathologic features of feline ocular lymphosarcoma: 49 cases (1978-1992). Corcoran KA, Peiffer RL, Koch SA. Vet Comp Ophthalmol 5:35-41, 1995.
3. Histopathologic study of uveitis in cats: 139 cases (1978-1988). Peiffer RL, Wilcock BP. JAVMA 198:135-138, 1991.
4. Feline large granular lymphocyte (LGL) lymphoma with secondary leukemia: Primary intestinal origin with predominance of CD3/CD8(alpha)(alpha) phenotype. Roccabianca P, Vernau W, Caniatti M, et al. Vet Pathol 43:15-28, 2006.
5. Ophthalmological oncology. Krohne S. PROC ACVIM, pp 383-386, 1998.
6. Examination of the aqueous humor as a diagnostic aid in anterior uveitis. Olin DD. JAVMA 171:557-559, 1977.

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

All Clinician's Brief content is reviewed for accuracy at the time of publication. Previously published content may not reflect recent developments in research and practice.

Material from Clinician's Brief may not be reproduced, distributed, or used in whole or in part without prior permission of Educational Concepts, LLC. For questions or inquiries please contact us.


Clinician's Brief:
The Podcast
Listen as host Alyssa Watson, DVM, talks with the authors of your favorite Clinician’s Brief articles. Dig deeper and explore the conversations behind the content here.
Clinician's Brief provides relevant diagnostic and treatment information for small animal practitioners. It has been ranked the #1 most essential publication by small animal veterinarians for 9 years.*

*2007-2017 PERQ and Essential Media Studies

© 2022 Educational Concepts, L.L.C. dba Brief Media ™ All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions | DMCA Copyright | Privacy Policy | Acceptable Use Policy