AKCCHF grant #01227-A (closed)

Specificity and Sensitivity of the Pancreatic Lipase Immunoreactivity (SPEC cPL) Test for the Diagnosis of Canine Pancreatitis

Stanley L Marks, BVSc, PhD, University of California Davis

This is an AKCCHF Success Story!  Diagnosing Pancreatitis before It’s Too Late

2/28/2010:  Report to Grant Sponsor from Investigator

Pancreatitis is a common and debilitating disease in dogs. The non-invasive diagnosis of canine pancreatitis remains challenging despite the advent of abdominal ultrasound and pancreas-specific blood tests. The pancreas-lipase immunoreactivity blood test was recently modified to address these concerns; however, the interpretation of abnormal pancreas-lipase test results in the absence of other supportive signs or diagnostic tests remains problematic. 

We recently completed a study in 70 dogs in which the severity of pancreatic inflammation observed during routine necropsies was compared with the pancreas-lipase test. Our study showed that the sensitivity (finding of an abnormal test in a dog with pancreatic inflammation) varied depending on the type of pancreatic inflammation, with the highest sensitivity results observed in dogs with acute pancreatitis. However, the sensitivity of the pancreas-lipase test was significantly decreased in dogs with chronic pancreatitis in which the sensitivity of the pancreas-lipase test was only 50%. The specificity of the pancreas-lipase test (finding of a normal test in a dog without pancreatic inflammation) was quite high at 80%. 

Our study confirmed that the pancreas-lipase test is superior to other blood tests for the diagnosis of pancreatitis in dogs. Our study emphasizes the need to establish other blood tests that have better sensitivities, particularly for dogs with chronic pancreatitis.


Trivedi S, Marks S, Kass P, Luff J, Keller S, Johnson E and Murphy B. (2011), Sensitivity and Specificity of Canine Pancreas-Specific Lipase (cPL) and Other Markers for Pancreatitis in 70 Dogs with and without Histopathologic Evidence of Pancreatitis. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 25: 1241–1247