Esophageal varices in dogs: A retrospective case series. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Esophageal varices (EV) are abnormally dilated veins in the esophagus caused by alterations of blood flow or pressure. Esophageal variceal hemorrhage is a major complication of hepatic disease in humans, but a lack of information exists regarding associated adverse events in dogs. OBJECTIVE: To describe the clinical manifestations and associated etiologies and outcomes of dogs with EV. ANIMALS: Twenty-five client-owned dogs with EV diagnosed via computed tomography (CT), endoscopy, or fluoroscopy. METHODS: Retrospective case series. Cases were identified by review of the hospital imaging records database between 2010 and 2020. Signalment, clinical signs, and outcomes were documented. When present, additional collateral vasculature was also recorded. Cases were subcategorized into suspected etiology based upon the anatomic location or absence of an attributable underlying disease process, as well as the direction of blood flow. RESULTS: Twenty-four of 25 cases were identified via CT, with a prevalence of 0.012% (24/1950 total studies). Presenting clinical signs were nonspecific, and more likely because of the underlying cause as opposed to complications secondary to EV themselves. Etiologic anatomic locations were similar in occurrence between the abdomen (N=14) and thorax (N=11). All cases with an abdominal etiologic location had presumed or confirmed portal hypertension and 9/11 cases with a thoracic etiologic location had pulmonary, caval, or systemic hypertension. No cases died or were euthanized as a direct result of EV or associated hemorrhage. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: Esophageal varices are rarely reported in dogs and commonly identified concurrently with portal, pulmonary, and caval hypertension. Hemorrhage is not a common clinical manifestation of EV.

published proceedings

  • J Vet Intern Med

altmetric score

  • 4.55

author list (cited authors)

  • Slead, T. S., Gremillion, C. L., Cohen, E. B., & Tolbert, M. K.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Slead, Tanner S||Gremillion, Christine L||Cohen, Eli B||Tolbert, M Katherine

publication date

  • January 2022