Findings of hepatic and gallbladder ultrasonography were analyzed in 12 dogs with gallbladder and/or extrahepatic biliary tract obstruction and compared with the results of exploratory laparotomy. Hepatic ultrasonography demonstrated normal liver in 2 dogs and hepatic abnormalities in 10 animals. The following ultrasonographic diagnoses were established compared to surgical findings: gallbladder obstruction caused by bile sludge (correct/incorrect: 1/2, surgical diagnosis: choleliths in one case), gallbladder obstruction caused by neoplasm (0/1, surgical diagnosis: mucocele), gallbladder and extrahepatic biliary tract obstruction due to choleliths (3/3), extrahepatic biliary tract obstruction caused by pancreatic mass (1/1) and small intestinal volvulus (1/1). Bile peritonitis caused by gallbladder rupture (4/4) was correctly diagnosed by ultrasound, aided with ultrasonographically-guided abdominocentesis and peritoneal fluid analysis. Rupture of the gallbladder should be suspected in the presence of a small, echogenic gallbladder or in the absence of the organ together with free abdominal fluid during ultrasonography. Laparotomy was correctly indicated by ultrasonography in all cases. However, the direct cause of obstruction could not be determined in 2 of the 12 dogs by ultrasonography alone.
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