Ultrasound is a poor predictor of early or overt liver or spleen metastasis in dogs with high-risk mast cell tumours.

Evi Pecceu, Juan Carlos Serra, Ian Handel, Chiara Piccinelli, Elspeth Milne, Jessica Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conflicting evidence exists regarding the importance of routine abdominal ultrasound (US) with hepatic and splenic fine needle aspiration (FNA) cytology during staging of canine mast cell tumours (MCT). The objective of this study was to correlate ultrasonographic and cytologic findings in dogs with strictly defined high-risk MCTs and to determine the influence on outcome. Our hypothesis was that US poorly predicts visceral metastasis in high-risk MCTs and that early metastasis is associated with improved outcome when compared to overt metastasis. US of liver and spleen correlated to cytologic results, categorised as no metastasis, early metastasis or overt metastasis. Of 82 dogs prospectively enrolled, 18% had early visceral metastasis and seven % had overt metastasis on cytology; 67% with visceral metastasis had regional LN metastasis. US was a poor predictor of metastasis with sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value for the spleen of 67%, 68%, 21%, and 94%, respectively and for the liver of 29%, 93%, 56%, and 82%, respectively. Median time to progression (TTP) for dogs with no metastasis, early metastasis, and overt metastasis was not reached, 305 days and 69 days, respectively (p<0.001). Median survival time (MST) for the three groups were not reached, 322 days and 81 days respectively (p<0.001). High Patnaik or Kiupel grade, early metastasis, overt metastasis and adequate local control were significantly associated with outcome. Early visceral metastasis was associated with poorer outcome compared to dogs without metastasis, however a subset of dogs experienced long-term control.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVeterinary and Comparative Oncology
Early online date7 Jan 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jan 2020


  • canine
  • cytology
  • mast cell tumour
  • metastasis
  • ultrasound


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