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News Article

Prediction tool aids diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome in dogs


Tool has been designed to support clinical decision‐making

Researchers within the VetCompass™ team at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) have developed a tool that can be used to evaluate the risk of Cushing’s syndrome (hyperadrenocorticism) in dogs. The freely accessible tool is designed to be used in practice to support decision-making and ultimately increase confidence in diagnosis.

A paper describing the development of the tool, along with details of how to use it, has been published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Cushing’s syndrome is an endocrine disease, resulting from an imbalance in cortisol. For dogs, the majority of Cushing’s cases are diagnosed and managed within primary-care veterinary practices, with only a minority of all cases being referred.

The classical clinical signs associated with the disease are well reported, with affected dogs typically showing various combinations of frequent passing of large volumes of urine, excessive thirst, excessive appetite, a potbellied appearance, muscle weakness, bilateral alopecia, panting and lethargy.

Cushing’s syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because these clinical signs are often non-specific to the disease. Additionally, there is no single, highly accurate test for Cushing’s syndrome and these tests are often over-used, making results difficult to interpret.

To directly support vets in practice, researchers within the VetCompass™ team have developed the tool which can be used in the practice setting to assess individual patient risks before confirmatory testing.

The tool was developed after the application of advanced statistical methods and is made up of 10 ‘predictive’ factors for Cushing’s syndrome. The tool reports the probability of an individual dog having Cushing’s syndrome, based on these factors.

The study included data from hundreds of dogs tested for Cushing’s syndrome across 886 UK veterinary practices and used data on dogs’ demographics, clinical signs at presentation and laboratory results. Funding was received from Dechra Veterinary Products Ltd.

The tool is available as a free download: VetCompass™ Cushing’s Diagnostic Prediction Tool (pdf)

Article: Schofield, I., Brodbelt, D. C., Niessen, S., Church, D. B., Geddes, R. F., Kennedy, N., O'Neill, D. G. (2020). Development and internal validation of a prediction tool to aid the diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome in dogs attending primary-care practice. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (advance online publication, 16 September 2020), doi: 10.1111/jvim.15851

Article details

  • Date
  • 22 September 2020
  • Source
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals