Challenging diagnostic work-up of a massive fluid-filled structure in the cranial abdomen of a cat
A 9-year-old female, neutered European shorthair cat was presented with acute vomiting, obvious jaundice and painful enlargement of the abdomen. Icteric skin and mucous membranes in addition to severe bilirubinaemia (mainly direct bilirubin) and a large increase in liver enzyme activities were the main findings at the initial examination. Radio- and ultrasonographic evaluation revealed a massive fluid-filled structure caudal to the liver displacing abdominal organs, in particular the stomach. As this structure with a diameter of 8-10 cm occupied considerable space in the cranioventral abdomen, a detailed ultrasonographic examination of the liver and the gallbladder, and determination of the structure's association with a particular abdominal organ was initially impossible. Via ultrasound-assisted puncture under general anaesthesia 300 ml of an almost clear fluid could be aspirated. Cytological examination revealed a cyst content-like fluid with cell detritus.Further ultrasonographic and computed tomographic diagnostics followed by abdominal laparotomy finally enabled diagnosis of a cystic dilatation of the entire common bile duct and accumulation of white bile. Histopathological examination after euthanasia (requested by the owner) identified lymphoplasmacytic cholangitis and necrosis of the duodenal papilla. The massive dilatation of the common bile duct complicated its definite diagnosis by diagnostic imaging methods. It was most likely caused by a longer-standing obstruction of the bile flow by lymphoplasmacytic cholangitis with necrosis and granulation tissue formation in the area of the duodenal papilla. An interesting but initially misleading feature was the presence of white bile. The etiology of this extremely rare condition remains obscure but in the described case a manifestation of impaired hepatocyte function secondary to biliary stasis is suspected to be the cause.