Case description: A 7-month-old 16.6-kg (36.5-lb) sexually intact female Golden Retriever was evaluated because of progressive severe bilateral membranous conjunctivitis, oral lesions, nasal discharge, and cough.
Clinical findings: Histologic examination of conjunctival biopsy specimens revealed findings consistent with ligneous conjunctivitis. Circulating plasminogen activity was repeatedly low, and congenital plasminogen deficiency was identified as the underlying cause of the ocular, oral, and respiratory lesions.
Treatment and outcome: Topical and subconjunctival administrations of fresh frozen plasma (FFP), topical administration of cyclosporine, and oral administration of azathioprine had no effect on the conjunctival membranes. Excision of the membranes followed by intensive treatment with topical applications of heparin, tissue plasminogen activator, corticosteroid, and FFP and IV administration of FFP prevented membrane regrowth. Intravenous administration of FFP increased plasma plasminogen activity to within reference limits, improved respiratory and oral lesions, and resulted in weight gain; discontinuation of this treatment resulted in weight loss, signs of depression, and worsening of lesions. After euthanasia because of disease progression, necropsy findings included mild hydrocephalus; multifocal intestinal hemorrhages; and fibrinous plaques in the oral cavity, nasopharynx, trachea, esophagus, and pericardium. Microscopically, the plaques were composed of fibrin and poorly organized granulation tissue. Fibrin thrombi were present within vessels in the lungs, oral cavity, and trachea.
Clinical relevance: In dogs, congenital plasminogen deficiency can occur and may be the underlying cause of ligneous conjunctivitis. A combination of surgical and medical treatments may improve conjunctival membranes, and administration of FFP IV appears to be effective in treating nonocular signs of plasminogen deficiency.