What is Granulomatous Liver Inflammation?
Inflammation which causes the formation of granulomas can be attributed to a wide number of diseases and infections. Bacterial infection by Mycobacterium avium is known for causing the formation of granulomas in the liver. Abyssinian and Somali cats have a higher risk of developing liver inflammation caused by M. avium infection due to a suppressed immune system.
Granulomatous liver inflammation is a rare condition in cats that is usually secondary to another disease or infection. A granuloma is a type of tissue produced by the body’s immune system when infection or inflammation occurs. This type of inflammation does not usually present any symptoms. Granulomas found in the liver are typically found incidentally during routine check-ups. However, if you suspect your cat has liver inflammation or disease, you should take them to the vet immediately, since liver inflammation can be indicative of liver disease or cancer.
Symptoms of Granulomatous Liver Inflammation in Cats
Some cats affected by the condition may not show symptoms at all. Seek immediate veterinary attention as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Lethargy and weakness
- Weight loss
- Signs of abdominal pain
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Changes in behavior
- Discoloration of the feces
- Lack of appetite
Causes of Granulomatous Liver Inflammation in Cats
Granulomas in the liver are usually an incidental finding, particularly if the cat isn’t showing any symptoms. There are several causes of granulomatous liver inflammation in cats, including, but not limited to:
- Liver disease
- Liver cancer
- Mycobacterium avium infection
- Bacterial infection
- Adverse drug reactions
- Allergic environmental reaction
Diagnosis of Granulomatous Liver Inflammation in Cats
Your vet will perform a thorough physical examination and evaluate your cat’s symptoms. Be sure to inform your vet of the extent and duration of your cat’s symptoms, as well as any previous history of liver problems. Be prepared to provide your cat’s medical history.
Your vet will make a definitive diagnosis by taking a liver biopsy. Standard diagnostic testing, including blood work, urinalysis, ultrasounds, and x-ray imaging may also be used to detect liver inflammation or rule out other liver diseases. Additional diagnostic testing may be utilized based on the suspected underlying cause.
Treatment of Granulomatous Liver Inflammation in Cats
Treatment may vary depending on the underlying cause of the granulomatous hepatitis. Your vet will be able to advise you on a treatment plan based on your cat’s specific needs.
Anti-inflammatory medications are typically prescribed in order to reduce swelling and inflammation of the liver. Bacterial infections, including M. avium, are often treated with an antibiotic regimen. However, due to the aggressive nature of M. avium, the infection is likely to recur even with treatment. M. avium is a serious type of bacterial infection that will require extensive treatment. All cases of M. avium infection must be reported to the proper health officials, as there is a chance it can lead to M. tuberculosis. M. avium infection also carries a zoonotic risk.
Cancer may be treated with chemotherapy or radiation. Surgery or cytotoxic drug therapy may also be recommended to treat cats with liver cancer. If a drug or environmental allergy has been identified, your vet will advise you to avoid the allergic substances to prevent recurrence.
Recovery of Granulomatous Liver Inflammation in Cats
Recovery and prognosis may vary depending on the underlying cause. Always follow your vet’s post-treatment and/or post-operative instructions carefully. Always administer any medications, particularly antibiotics, exactly as directed for the full duration of the recovery period. Failure to do so could result in aggressive recurrence of infection. Never administer over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications made exclusively for human use, as these may worsen the condition and lead to overdose.
Drug therapy for M. avium infection typically lasts for six to nine months. This treatment regimen should involve a mix of drugs, as one single drug is often ineffective against the infection.
If your cat has had surgery, do not allow M. avium them to irritate the surgery site. An Elizabethan collar may help with this. Check the surgery site daily to ensure there is no swelling or discharge. If your cat has been diagnosed with a drug or environmental allergy, ensure that you take great care to prevent exposing your cat to the allergen.
Acute, mild cases of liver inflammation may not warrant follow-up treatments. For more severe cases of liver inflammation, your vet may schedule follow-up appointments as needed to monitor the underlying condition.
If you have any questions, or if the condition has recurred or does not seem to be improving despite treatment, contact your vet immediately.