As your dog reaches his senior years, a diagnosis of hepatic nodular hyperplasia is common. Causing non-spreading, benign lumps or lesions on the liver, this condition often causes no symptoms or medical concerns, and detection often occurs during routine blood tests or exploratory surgery due to other medical conditions. In the rare case a lump or lesion ruptures, surgery may be necessary.
In general, lesions or lumps from hepatic nodular hyperplasia do not cause symptoms unless the location interferes with the blood supply to the liver and disruption of liver function occurs. If this happens, symptoms can include a loss of appetite, vomiting diarrhea, lethargy and jaundice, or a yellowing of the eyes, gums and skin.
A clinical cause for hepatic nodular hyperplasia is unknown, but other liver disorders or previous liver injuries may increase the risk of development. The average age of onset is between 6 to 8 years. While any breed is susceptible, Scottish terriers have an increased risk of development.
During regular blood work performed by a veterinarian, elevated levels of serum alkaline phosphatase, or ALP, are often the first indicator of hepatic nodular hyperplasia. In some cases, elevated levels of alanine aminotransferase, or ALT, are also present. Abdominal radiography or ultrasound imagery will allow the veterinarian to examine the liver and look for any abnormal growths. If detected, a liver biopsy is necessary to rule out hepatocellular carcinoma or any other cancer growths before hepatic nodular hyperplasia is confirmed.
Generally, no treatment is necessary, as the condition does not cause your dog any symptoms or medical complications. A veterinarian may require quarterly blood tests and ultrasounds to monitor liver function and lump growth. In the event of a lesion rupture, a blood transfusion or surgical removal of the lesion may be necessary.
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