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Emphysematous hepatitis in a 10 yr old FS Australian Shepherd

Patient Information

10 Years
Female, Spayed


Possible mass formation of the liver measuring 64mm.


A 10-year-old FS Australian Shepherd was presented for evaluation of acute hematemesis, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.  Abnormalities on physical examination were lateral recumbence, dehydration, and pyrexia (106.8).  Blood work showed thrombocytopenia and elevated ALT (655) activity. On survey radiographs possible mass in mid abdomen and hepatomegaly was evident.

Clinical Differential Diagnosis

Leptospirosis Gall bladder – cholecystitis Pancreas – acute pancreatitis Intestinal perforation with regional peritonitis

Image Interpretation

The liver in this patient presented parenchymal 6.5 cm region of the left cranial parenchyma in which air accumulation is noted. This is consistent with emphysematous hepatitis. Variable areas of hepatic parenchyma revealed emphysematous penetration within the parenchyma. A hyperechoic portion of the liver appeared to enter into the esophageal inlet. This is consistent with hiatal hernia of the liver lobe. This is particularly aggressive. Underlying neoplasia is possible such as carcinoma; however, ultrasound-guided FNA of the general hepatic parenchyma and the emphysematous portion of the parenchyma would be recommended. Surgical consult is recommended as well. This is in an exceedingly difficult position to assess surgically given the cranial aspect of the liver. Stabilization of the patient prior to surgical consultation is recommended. The gallbladder was mildly thickened.

The spleen was mildly irregular with micronodular changes.

Variable areas of consolidation were noted in the thorax.  A portion of the liver appeared to be present in the caudal thorax. Radiographic review would be recommended.

Sonographic Differential Diagnosis

Emphysematous hepatitis with possible mass formation in the cranial liver with hiatal hernia of the liver lobe. Possible splenitis or infiltrative disease involving the spleen with regional peritonitis.


Emphysematous hepatitis


Aggressive treatment for anaerobic infection is recommended. Adding Clindamycin or Metronidazole would also be recommended for triple antibiotic therapy. Plasma transfusion, plasma expanders and eventual FNA of the spleen and liver would be warranted to rule out underlying neoplasia followed by surgical consultation depending upon follow-up sonogram over the next 48-72 hours. Very guarded prognosis.