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Biochemical evaluation of the hepatobiliary system in dogs and cats

Sutherland, R.J. (1989) Biochemical evaluation of the hepatobiliary system in dogs and cats. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 19 (5). pp. 899-927.

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The causes and clinical signs of hepatobiliary involvement in disease are many and varied and often are not referable directly to this organ system. Laboratory investigation frequently is necessary to rule hepatic disease in or out, to assess the functional impact on the liver, and to decide whether hepatic disease is the patient's primary problem or a complication of something else. The selection and interpretation of laboratory tests to resolve these problems is based on an understanding of relevant functional anatomy and pathophysiology. The mainstay of such assessment is hepatic enzymology, which can detect active disease in both hepatocytes and the biliary system. The hepatocellular pattern of disease is characterized by increases in leakage enzymes such as SDH, GLDH, and ALT and the cholestatic pattern by increases in induced enzymes (ALP and GGT). In general, enzymology does not allow the intensity or functional effect of hepatobiliary disease to be assessed, and quite severe hepatopathies may have only minimal enzyme abnormalities. For this reason, the primary biochemical data base for ruling hepatobiliary disease in or out always should involve some screening tests of hepatic function, such as albumin, protein, bilirubin, glucose, or urea determinations; as well as urinalysis to search for bilirubinuria and urobilinogenuria in hyperbilirubinemic patients and for ammonium biurate crystals when hyperammonemia or hepatic encephalopathy is suspected. Because the liver synthesizes most clotting factors, evaluation of blood coagulation is indicated when surgery is contemplated on patients with liver disease or when bleeding is present. Paired pre- and post-prandial determinations of serum bile acids are the preferred method for assessment of hepatobiliary function in dogs and cats. However, the BSP clearance test continues to be useful in the functional assessment of the liver as long as the dye remains available to veterinarians. Clearance of BSP is delayed in hepatocellular, cholestatic, and portosystemic disease as well as by severe extrahepatic circulatory disturbances, In general, this functional test is less sensitive than serum bile acids or the ammonia tolerance test in the recognition of hepatic encephalopathy caused by portosystemic anomalies. The objectives of biochemical screening of the liver are to establish the type (hepatocellular, biliary, or mixed), duration (acute, chronic), and stage (aggressive, convalescent) of hepatobiliary disease and to assess functional status

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary Studies
Publisher: W. B. Saunders Co., Ltd.
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