Intestinal wall thickness is neither a specific nor sensitive ultrasound parameter for detecting intestinal inflammation. We hypothesize that mucosal echogenicity, lymphadenomegaly, and secondary findings of the gastrointestinal tract would be more sensitive and specific markers for detecting and differentiating causes of chronic inflammatory bowel disease in dogs. Fifty-six client-owned dogs with chronic diarrhea and 10 control dogs were examined with two-dimensional, gray-scale ultrasound (time 0, 4, and 10 weeks post therapy) and small intestinal mucosal biopsies were performed at the 0- and 4-week time points. The clinical activity was assessed at each time point using the canine inflammatory bowel disease activity index (CIBDAI). Fifty-one dogs had inflammatory infiltration of the duodenal mucosa and were divided into three groups, food-responsive disease, idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease, and protein-losing enteropathy, based on their response to the different treatments and histology. Two different patterns of increased echogenicity of the mucosa were detected: hyperechoic speckles and hyperechoic striations. A normal, hypoechoic bowel mucosa in dogs with chronic diarrhea had a sensitivity of 80% and a specificity of 81% for the diagnosis of food-responsive disease. Hyperechoic striations had a sensitivity of 75% and a specificity of 96% for dogs with protein-losing enteropathy. Hyperechoic speckles were non-specific for diagnosing inflammatory bowel disease. There was a significant relationship between ultrasound score and CIBDAI at t0, but not following therapy. Mucosal echogenicity may be a better parameter for detecting inflammatory bowel disease than bowel wall thickness in dogs with chronic diarrhea.
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