Radiographic, ultrasonographic, and computed tomographic appearance of alveolar echinococcosis in dogs

Scharf G, Deplazes P, Kaser-Hotz B, et al.

Vet Radiol Ultrasound 2004;45:411-418.

Alveolar echinococcosis is a rare metacestodal infection of humans and domestic animals with Echinococcus multilocularis and predominantly affects the liver. In humans, diagnosis is based on serology, ultrasonography, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), techniques that have not yet been validated for the diagnosis of alveolar echinococcosis in dogs. Therefore, the purpose of this retrospective study was to describe the radiographic, ultrasonographic, and CT appearance of canine alveolar echinococcosis. Eleven dogs with confirmed alveolar echinococcosis (PCR or histology from biopsy material of metacestode tissue) diagnosed between 1995 and 2003 were included in the study. The age of the dogs at initial presentation ranged from 7 months to 10.5 years. Abdominal radiographs were made in nine animals, abdominal ultrasonography was performed in 10 dogs, and two CT studies in one dog, respectively. The history, clinical presentation, and laboratory findings for the 11 dogs were unspecific, the most frequent clinical finding being nonpainful progressive abdominal distention. All radiographed dogs had large liver masses; they contained small mineralizations in five. The most frequent ultrasonographic finding was multiple large cavitary masses with or without wall mineralizations. Seven animals received surgical and subsequent medical therapy with albendazole (10mg/kg) and all went into clinical remission. This study reviewed for the first time imaging findings associated with alveolar echinococcosis. The disease has to be included in the list of differential diagnoses in dogs with large, cavitary liver masses, particularly when mineralization is noted.