Congenital portosystemic shunts and hepatic encephalopathy in goat kids in California: 11 cases (1999-2012)

Hailu Kinde, Patricia Pesavento, Alexandre P. Loretti, John M Adaska, Bradd C. Barr, Janet D. Moore, Mark L Anderson, Guillermo Rimoldi, Ashley E Hill, Megan E B Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Between 1999 and 2012, 11 cases of congenital portosystemic shunts (cPSS) resulting in hepatic encephalopathy were diagnosed in goat kids necropsied at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System and at the Department of Pathology, Immunology & Microbiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis. Affected animals included 6 females and 5 males of various breeds including Boer (5/11), Nigerian Dwarf (1/11), Saanen (1/11), Toggenburg (1/11), and mixed-breed (3/11) aged between 1.5 months and 11 months, submitted live (2/11) or dead (9/11) for necropsy. The most frequent clinical signs in these goats were ataxia, blindness, tremors, head bobbing, head pressing, seizures, circling, weakness, and ill thrift. Bile acids were measured in 2 animals, and were elevated in both cases (134 and 209 μmol/l, reference interval = 0-50 μmol/l). Necropsy findings were poor to fair body condition. Grossly, the livers of 4 animals were subjectively small. Microscopic lesions included portal spaces with increased numbers of arteriolar profiles and hypoplastic or absent portal veins, diffuse atrophy of the hepatic parenchyma with the presence of small hepatocytes and, in some cases, multifocal hepatocellular macrovesicular vacuolation. In the brain and spinal cord of all animals, there was bilateral and symmetric spongy degeneration affecting the cerebrum, mesencephalon, cerebellum, brainstem, and cervical spinal cord. In all cases, the brain lesions were consistent with hepatic encephalopathy. Congenital portosystemic shunts should be considered in the differential diagnosis of young goats with a history of ill thrift, and nonspecific neurological signs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-177
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Congenital
  • goats
  • hepatic encephalopathy
  • portosystemic shunt
  • spongy degeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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