BACKGROUND: Splenic nodules and heterogeneous parenchyma are seen frequently in abdominal ultrasound examinations of dogs, but the clinical importance of these lesions remains unclear.
OBJECTIVES: To determine whether specific ultrasonographic findings correlate with clinically relevant cytologic diagnoses and determine what sonographic features are correlated with these diagnoses. Another objective was to develop a scoring rubric to help clinicians make decisions on whether or not certain ultasonographic findings of the spleen warrant evaluation by fine-needle cytology.
ANIMALS: One-hundred twenty-five adult client-owned dogs with ultrasonographically identified splenic nodules, heterogeneous parenchyma, or both.
METHODS: Medical records were retrospectively searched for ultrasound-guided splenic fine-needle cytology reports. Ultrasonographic images were assessed for nodule number, size, echogenicity and distal enhancement, degree of splenic heterogeneity, and peritoneal fluid. Dogs were divided into 2 groups: those with clinically important or clinically irrelevant cytologic findings. Potentially useful and discriminatory ultrasonographic findings were identified by statistical analysis, and the most useful findings were used to generate the scoring rubric.
RESULTS: The clinically important group included 25 of 125 dogs (22 malignancies, 3 suppurative inflammation). Splenic nodules 1-2 cm in diameter, peritoneal fluid, and >1 targetoid nodule were associated with clinically important cytologic findings. Receiver operator characteristic analysis showed that the scoring rubric was useful for identifying dogs in the clinically important group.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: Splenic fine-needle cytologic findings identified a clinically relevant diagnosis in 20% of dogs, and larger nodule size, number of targetoid lesions, and presence of peritoneal fluid increase the likelihood of detection of clinically important disease.