Clinical Exposures: Biliary cystadenomatosis in a ferret - Veterinary Medicine
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Clinical Exposures: Biliary cystadenomatosis in a ferret


Two cases each of cholangiocellular cystadenoma and cholangiocellular carcinoma recently reported in ferrets were attributed to Helicobacter species infection.2 The affected livers showed bile duct hyperplasia, oval cell hyperplasia, and chronic inflammation.2 Also, chronic gastritis,3 gastric gland atrophy,3 gastric adenocarcinoma,4 and gastric lymphoma5 have been associated with Helicobacter species infection in ferrets. Neither Helicobacter species nor any of the described Helicobacter species-associated lesions were present in this ferret's liver or stomach. Heilicobacter species infections in cats are common,6,7 and biliary cystadenomas have been reported in cats,8-11 but no association between the two has been reported.

The predominant clinical sign of biliary cystadenoma is hepatic enlargement or a palpable cranial abdominal mass.8,11 Biliary cystadenomas can be demonstrated by radiography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging.11,12 Radiographically, biliary cystadenoma may be seen as a cranial abdominal mass, but association with the liver is often difficult to demonstrate.12

Ultrasonography is preferred because the tumor is cystic and its association with the liver is more readily identified.6,7,11 However, some tumors may not be detectable by ultrasonography because of their small size or because of near-field reverberation echoes.11 A high-frequency transducer (10 MHz) is required to detect small cysts within the tumors.11 In general, biliary cystadenomas appear as either multilocular masses containing thin-walled cysts, hyperechoic masses with cystic components, or masses of mixed echogenicity with cystic components.11 The ultrasonographic differential diagnoses should include abscesses, biliary cysts or tortuous biliary structures, biliary cystadenocarcinomas, cholangiocellular carcinomas, hemangiosarcomas, hematomas, and metastatic ovarian and pancreatic adenocarcinomas. Histopathology is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Although this case was too advanced for treatment, when solitary or multiple small tumors are confined to a single liver lobe, surgical excision or lobectomy can be curative.9-11


The author thanks Maureen Puccini for photographic support.

Neil Allison, DVM, DACVP, C. E. Kord Animal Disease Laboratory, Ellington Agriculture Center, Nashville, TN 37204. Dr. Allison’s present address is Experimental Pathology Laboratories, P.O. Box 12766, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709.


1. Li X, Fox JG. Neoplastic diseases. In: Fox JG, ed. Biology and diseases of the ferret. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Williams & Wilkins, 1998;405-447.

2. Garcia A, Erdman SE, Xu S, et al. Hepatobiliary inflammation, neoplasia, and argyrophilic bacteria in a ferret colony. Vet Pathol 2002;39:173-179.

3. Fox JG, Otto G, Taylor NS, et al. Helicobacter mustelae-induced gastritis and elevated gastric pH in the ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Infect Immun 1991;59:1875-1880.

4. Fox JG, Dangler CA, Sager W, et al. Helicobacter mustelae-associated gastric adenocarcinoma in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo). Vet Pathol 1997;34:225-229.

5. Erdman SE, Correa P, Coleman LA, et al. Helicobacter mustelae-associated gastric MALT lymphoma in ferrets. Am J Pathol 1997;151:273-280.

6. Yamasaki K, Suematsu H, Takahashi T. Comparison of gastric lesions in dogs and cats with and without gastric spiral organisms. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;212:529-533.

7. Hwang CY, Han HR, Youn HY. Prevalence and clinical characterization of gastric Helicobacter species infection of dogs and cats in Korea. J Vet Sci 2002;3:123-133.


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