Every Cat Logo

Comparing tests for diagnosis of pancreatitis in cats

Oppliger S, Hartnack S, Reusch CE, Kook PH. Agreement of serum feline pancreas-specific lipase and colorimetric lipase assays with pancreatic ultrasonographic findings in cats with suspicion of pancreatitis: 161 cases (2008-2012). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2014 May 1; 244(9): 1060-1065.

While it appears to be a common disease in cats, diagnosing pancreatitis in cats can be challenging due to vague clinical signs and non-specific changes in CBC and serum biochemical analysis results. Two tests considered key tools in reaching a diagnosis of pancreatitis are feline pancreas-specific lipase concentration determination and pancreatic ultrasonography. A newer catalytic lipase assay – DGGR – was validated for use in feline serum and compared to feline pancreas-specific lipase assay in 251 cats with a suspicion of pancreatitis. Results of both lipase assays agree significantly, with DGGR appearing to be the most cost effective test of the two.

A recent retrospective case study of 161 cats investigated the agreement of feline pancreas-specific concentration and DGGR lipase activity with results of pancreatic ultrasonography in cats with suspicion of pancreatitis. Both were measured from the same blood sample in cats being considered for a diagnosis of pancreatitis, with less than 24 hours occurring between lipase concentrations and ultrasonography. Several features were recorded on ultrasonography of the pancreas in each cat: ultrasonographic diagnosis (ie, pancreatitis {yes or no}), enlargement, irregular margins, echogenicity (hypoechoic, hyperechoic, and mixed-echoic), surrounding mesenteric echogenicity, peripancreatic free fluid, cysts, masses, and common bile and pancreatic duct dilation. Results of pancreatic histologic evaluation, biopsy samples collected, were included when available.

Results of the study showed that agreement between the lipase assays was substantial. However, agreement between pancreatic ultrasonography and lipase assay results was only fair. The best agreement between the lipase assay results and pancreatic ultrasonography was with evaluated variables such as combined hypoechoic and mixed-echoic pancreas, hypoechoic pancreas, and enlarged pancreas. No determination could be made whether lipase results or pancreatic ultrasonography should be considered the more accurate test for diagnosing pancreatitis in cats. Interpretation of results from both tests must be made with caution. (VLT)

See also:
Oppliger S, Hartnack S, et al. Agreement of the serum Spec fPL™ and 1,2-o-dilauryl-rac-glycero-3-glutaric acid-(6′-methylresorufin) ester lipase assay for the determination of serum lipase in cats with suspicion of pancreatitis. J Vet Intern Med. 2013 Sept-Oct; 27(5): 1077-1082.