Novel tool aids diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome in dogs
A new tool designed to help veterinary practices assess the risk of Cushing's syndrome in dogs has been developed by researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC).
The tool, described in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, can be used by practices to evaluate individual patient risk ahead of confirmatory testing. It consists of 10 'predictive' factors for Cushing's syndrome and reports the chance of having the disease based on these factors.
Imogen Schofield, co-author and PhD student at the RVC, said: “The output from this research provides clinicians in primary-care practice with an easy to use and intuitive tool that can aid decision-making during the often frustrating process of diagnosing Cushing’s syndrome. Using our tool to assess how likely a suspected dog is of having Cushing’s syndrome before undertaking further testing could reduce inappropriate use of currently available diagnostic tests.”
Cushing's syndrome is a condition caused by an imbalance of cortisol. Common signs of the disease include frequent passing of large volumes of urine, excessive thirst and excessive appetite.
Until now, Cushing's syndrome was difficult to diagnose because the clinical signs are often no specific to the disease. Moreover, there is no single, accurate test for the condition, and test are often overused, making it difficult to interpret the results.
In a bid to support vets in practice, the VetCompass team at the RVC set out to develop a novel tool that could be used in practice settings.
Their study was based on data from hundreds of dogs tested for Cushing’s syndrome across more than 800 UK veterinary practices. It also used data on dogs’ demographics, clinical signs at presentation and laboratory results.
Greg Williams from Dechra Veterinary Products Ltd, which funded the study, said: “Dechra has established itself as an expert in endocrinology and is committed to paving the way forward in this area.
"Reaching a diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome can often be seen as a hurdle, before being able to start treatment for this important disease. Therefore, the primary aim of this research was to develop a new tool that directly supports vets in practice with the diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome.”