Ultrasonography is insensitive but specific for detecting aortic wall abnormalities in dogs infected with Spirocerca lupi

17 Oct 2020

Merhavi, N., Segev, G., Dvir, E., Peery, D.

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Spirocercosis is caused by the nematode Spirocerca lupi (S lupi). The disease mainly affects dogs and is typically diagnosed by oesophagoscopy or faecal examination; however, these diagnostic tests may deliver false negative results during the migration phase of the nematode. The aim of the present prospective study was to evaluate whether ultrasonography could detect abnormalities in the abdominal aorta, celiac artery, and gastric wall structure as a diagnostic aid to detect S lupi infection in dogs.


Oesophagoscopy and a focused abdominal ultrasound scan were performed in 40 dogs that presented to the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with gastrointestinal complaints. Ultrasonography scan findings of 20 dogs with oesophageal nodules, indicating S lupi infection (study group), were compared with those of 20 control dogs.


Vascular wall irregularity was significantly more common in the study group than in the control group (9/20 v 1/20, respectively; P=0.008).


Ultrasonographic evaluation of the abdominal aorta, celiac artery, and gastric wall structure is not a sensitive diagnostic marker for spirocercosis in dogs. However, the presence of vascular wall irregularity of the abdominal aorta or celiac artery might indicate S lupi migration.