Background: Bernese mountain dogs are reported to have a shorter life expectancy than other breeds. A major reason for this has been assigned to a high tumour prevalence, especially of histiocytic sarcoma. The efforts made by the breeding clubs to improve the longevity with the help of genetic tests and breeding value estimations are impeded by insufficiently reliable diagnoses regarding the cause of death. The current standard for post mortem examination in animals is performance of an autopsy. In human forensic medicine, imaging modalities, such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, are used with increasing frequency as a complement to autopsy. The present study investigates, whether post mortem computed tomography in combination with core needle biopsy is able to provide a definitive diagnosis of histiocytic sarcoma. For this purpose we have analysed the results of post mortem computed tomography and core needle biopsy in eleven Bernese mountain dogs. In the subsequent autopsy, every dog had a definitive diagnosis of histiocytic sarcoma, based on immunohistochemistry. Results: Computed tomography revealed space-occupying lesions in all dogs. Lesion detection by post mortem computed tomography was similar to lesion detection in autopsy for lung tissue (9 cases in computed tomography / 8 cases in autopsy), thoracic lymph nodes (9/8), spleen (6/7), kidney (2/2) and bone (3/3). Hepatic nodules, however, were difficult to detect with our scanning protocol (2/7). Histology of the core needle biopsies provided definitive diagnoses of histiocytic sarcoma in ten dogs, including confirmation by immunohistochemistry in six dogs. The biopsy samples of the remaining dog did not contain any identifiable neoplastic cells. Autolysis was the main reason for uncertain histological diagnoses. Conclusions: Post mortem computed tomography is a fast and effective method for the detection of lesions suspicious for histiocytic sarcoma in pulmonary, thoracic lymphatic, splenic, osseous and renal tissue. Optimization of the procedure regarding the scanning protocoland tissue sample size and number will improve the accuracy of the method.
Hostettler, F. C., Wiener, D. J., Welle, M. M., Posthaus, H., & Geissbühler, U. (2015). Post mortem computed tomography and core needle biopsy in comparison to autopsy in eleven bernese mountain dogs with histiocytic sarcoma. BMC Veterinary Research, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-015-0544-0