Radiographic and computed tomographic changes and clinical presentation of spirocercosis in the dog

Dvir E, Kirberger RM, Malleczek D.

Vet Radiol Ultrasound 2001;42:119-129.

A retrospective study of 39 dogs with spirocercosis is described, emphasizing radiographic and computed tomographic aspects and clinical presentation. Dogs were classified as complicated or uncomplicated, both clinically and radiographically. Besides the expected upper gastrointestinal signs, a high incidence of respiratory (77%) and locomotor (23%) complications were present. All dogs had thoracic radiographs. Esophageal masses were radiographically classified as typical or atypical according to their location. Twenty-seven dogs had a typical caudal esophageal mass. Six dogs had a mass atypically located in the hilar region. These masses were smaller and more difficult to visualize radiographically. The remaining 6 dogs did not have a radiographically detectable esophageal mass. Radiology as an initial diagnostic tool was effective in detecting and localizing the mass and to detect early respiratory abnormalities such as pleuritis, mediastinitis, pneumonia, and bronchial displacement. Endoscopy was the modality of choice to confirm antemortem esophageal masses. In dogs where the mass filled the whole esophageal lumen, endoscopy failed to give essential information necessary for surgical excision of neoplastic masses, such as the extent of esophageal wall attachment. Caudal esophageal sphincter involvement was difficult to determine endoscopically with large caudal esophageal masses. Computed tomography was performed on 3 dogs and did not address the latter problems completely, but was found to be a sensitive tool to detect focal aortic mineralization and early spondylitis, both typical for the disease, and essential in the diagnosis of non- or extramural esophageal abnormalities.