The diagnosis of pancreatitis in dogs and cats can be challenging. Several diagnostic tests have been evaluated over the years, but the majority have been shown to be of limited utility owing to poor performance or limited availability or because invasive procedures are required. Assays for the measurement of pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity (cPLI for dogs and fPLI for cats) were first developed over a decade ago and now include Spec cPL and SNAP cPL for dogs and Spec fPL and SNAP fPL for cats. Owing to their high sensitivity and specificity for pancreatitis compared with those of other serum tests, concentrations of cPLI and fPLI have been demonstrated to be the serum tests of choice for evaluation of dogs and cats, respectively, suspected of having pancreatitis. False-positive and false-negative results can occur, and recognition of the limitations of pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity assays is important. As there is currently no gold standard for antemortem diagnosis of pancreatitis in dogs and cats, the combination of a complete history and physical examination, measurement of pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity, and ultrasonographic examination of the pancreas is the best approach for an accurate noninvasive diagnosis of pancreatitis.
© 2012 American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology.