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SUSPECTED neoplastic haemoperitoneum can represent a decision-making challenge. Rapid and invasive interventions may be required to prevent deterioration; however, the definitive diagnosis and prognosis is often unknown. Diagnosis typically requires a surgical biopsy, which is associated with additional risk of morbidity and mortality (Brockman and others 2000).
The severity of clinical signs, the typically advanced age of the dog and the likelihood of malignant neoplasia inevitably results in euthanasia based on a presumptive diagnosis in a large proportion of cases (Wood and others 1998, Brockman and others 2000, Herold and others 2008). Ethically, financially and clinically appropriate therapy for such cases remains a controversial subject due to the poor long-term prognosis associated with malignant neoplasia compared with the favourable prognosis for benign disease (Prymak and others 1988, Pintar and others 2003, Hammond and Pesillo-Crosby 2008, Aronsohn and others 2009). This study aimed to explore factors influencing dog owners' decision making for surgical treatment for suspected neoplastic haemoperitoneum, to determine the duration of hospitalisation and complications of surgical treatment and to evaluate the dogs' quality of life (QOL) at follow-up, in order to provide information to facilitate clinical decision making and owner counselling in these challenging cases.
The medical records of dogs presented with haemoperitoneum between March 2003 and February 2009 were reviewed for the following data: signalment, diagnosis, treatment, perioperative complications (any therapeutic intervention required beyond routine postoperative treatment), survival to discharge and duration of hospitalisation. Dogs were included in the study if there was a definitive histological diagnosis of neoplasia or a distinct suspicion of neoplasia based on the presence of a large intra-abdominal mass visualised on diagnostic imaging.
Postal questionnaires were sent to three groups of owners. Groups 1 and 2 consisted of …