Menu

Location

Liver Shunt

Image of dog laying down.

A liver shunt is also named a PSS, portosystemic shunt, portacaval shunt or portosystemic vascular anomaly. This abnormality occurs when a pet's venous blood from the intestine bypasses the liver. In the normal pet, blood vessels pick up nutrients from ingested material in the intestine and carry it to the liver to be processed. In the case of a shunt, an abnormal blood vessel carries this blood around the liver and dumps the nutrients directly into the general circulation. Toxins build up in the bloodstream as a result. The pet can be born with the shunt (congenital) or can develop it later (acquired).

Breeds at increased risk for congenital shunts include Cairn Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Irish Wolfhounds, Himalayans and Persians. An acquired shunt can develop in any breed and is usually caused by liver problems due to toxins, hepatitis, infections, inflammation, etc.

Symptoms of a liver shunt include stunted growth, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, unresponsiveness, seizures, disorientation, poor skin and coat, excessive drinking and urination. Some pets will have a single sign and some with have several.

The diagnosis is made with blood tests, urinalysis and imaging tests (radiographs and/or ultrasounds). A liver function test called bile acids is usually very suggestive for a liver shunt when the values are very high. Another diagnostic test that can be performed is nuclear scintigraphy, which must be done at a referral specialty facility. Yet another possible diagnostic test that can be performed is a CT scan.

The treatment and how well the pet responds are dependent on many things including the location and severity of the shunt. Some pets will do well for long periods of time with medical management only. Medical management includes a low protein diet, antibiotics and lactulose. Surgical repair is commonly done for congenital shunts and again the success is dependent on the location and severity of the shunt.

Location

Office Hours

Monday:

6:00 pm-8:00 am

Tuesday:

6:00 pm-8:00 am

Wednesday:

6:00 pm-8:00 am

Thursday:

6:00 pm-8:00 am

Friday:

6:00 pm-8:00 am

Saturday:

24 hours

24 Hours

Sunday:

24 hours

24 Hours

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Sammers is an 11 year old, Black, Domestic Short Hair Cat. His owner noticed that Sammers was pacing, walking around in circles at home and crying out in pain.

    "I would like to thank all of the staff who helped with Sammer's UTI. He was miserable, and you guys made him better. I cannot thank you enough for helping him. It is great to have a place to go when all the other vet clinics are closed.""
    Roxanne & "Sammers"- June 2012
  • "Kahlua is a very special service dog. He was brought in by his owner when she noticed that Kahlua was acting very painful and didn't want to jump. After a thorough exam Kahlua went home with some pain meds. Kahlua's mom stopped by our Facebook page to send us a note on his progress.

    "Just wanted to thank Dr. Cavanaugh, straight from the heart for seeing our Kahlua and putting our worries to rest. It was hilarious trying to get him to take his Tramadol.... cheese would not work but the Chunky Skippy did the trick. WE THINK YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!!! So thank you, straight from the heart.""
    Michelle & "Kahula" - July 2012